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•LADY SUSAN': a Novel 




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The Memoir of my Aunt, Jane Austen, has 
been received with more favour than I had 
ventured to expect. The notices taken of it 
in the periodical press, as well as letters ad- 
dressed to me by many with whom I am not 
personally acquainted, show that an unabated 
interest is still taken in every particular that 
can be told about her. I am thus encouraged 
not only to offer a Second Edition of the 
Memoir, but also to enlarge it with some addi- 
tional matter which I might have scrupled to 
intrude on the public if they had not thus seemed 
to call for it. In the present Edition, the nar- 
rative is somewhat enlarged, and a few more 
letters are added ; with a short specimen of her 
childish stories. The cancelled chapter of ' Per- 
suasion ' is given, in compliance with wishes 
both publicly and privately expressed. A frag- 
ment of a story entitled ' The Watsons ' is 

vi Preface. 

printed ; and extracts are given from a novel 
which she had begun a few months before her 
death ; but the chief addition is a short tale 
never before published, called * Lady Susan/ 
I regret that the little which I have been able 
to add could not appear in my First Edition ; 
as much of it was either unknown to me, or 
not at my command, when I first published ; 
and I hope that I may claim some indulgent 
allowance for the difficulty of recovering little 
facts and feelings which had been merged half 
a century deep in oblivion. 

November 17, 1870. 




Introductory Remarks — Birth of Jane Austen — Her 
Family Connections — Their Influence on her Writings , I 


Description of Steventon — Life at Steventon — Changes of 
Habits and Customs in the last Century . . i S 


Early Compositions — Friends at Ashe — A very Old Letter 
— Lines on the Death of Mrs. Lefroy — Observations on 
fane Austen's Letter-writing — Letters . . . . 4.J 


Removal from Steventon — Residence at Bath and at South- 
ampton — Settling at Chawton 66 


Description of Jane Austen's person, character, and tastes 82 


viii Conteiits. 



Habits of Composition resztmed after a long interval- 
First publication — The interest taken by the Author in 
the success of her Works 95 


Seclusion from the literary world- — Notice from the Prince 
Regent — Correspondence with Mr. Clarke — Suggestions 
to alter her style of writing 108 


Slow growth of her fa?ne — III success of first atte?npts at 
publication — Two Reviews of her works contrasted . 127 


Opinions expressed by eminent persons — Opinions of others 
of less eminence — Opinion of American readers . .136 

Observations on the Novels 144 


Declining health of Jane Austen — Elasticity of her spirits 
— Her resignation and humility — Her death . . .150 


The cancelled Chapter of ' Persuasion ' . . . ,167 

Contents. ix 



The last work 181 

Postscript I9S 



' He knew of no one but himself who was inclined to the work. 
This is no uncommon motive. A man sees something to be 
done, knows of no one who will do it but himself, and so is 
^driven to the enterprise.' 

Helps' Life of Columbtts, ch. i. 

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Introductory Remarks — Birth of Jane Austen — Her Family 
Connections — Their Influence on her Writings. 

ORE than half a century has passed away 
since I, the youngest of the mourners,* 
attended the funeral of my dear aunt 
Jane in Winchester Cathedral ; and now, 
in my old age, I am asked whether my memory 
will serve to rescue from oblivion any events of her 
life or any traits of her character to satisfy the en- 
quiries of a generation of readers who have been 
born since she died. Of events her life was singu- 
larly barren: few changes and no great crisis ever 
broke the smooth current of its course. Even her 
fame may be said to have been posthumous : it did 

* I went to represent my father, who was too unwell to attend him- 
self, and thus I was the only one of my generation present. 


A Memoir of 

not attain to any vigorous life till she had ceased to 
exist. Her talents did not introduce her to the 
notice of other writers, or connect her with the lite- 
rary world, or in any degree pierce through the 
obscurity of her domestic retirement. I have there- 
fore scarcely any materials for a detailed life of my 
aunt ; but I have a distinct recollection of her person 
and character ; and perhaps many may take an in- 
terest in a delineation, if any such can be drawn, of 
that prolific mind whence sprung the Dashwoods 
and Bennets, the Bertrams and Woodhouses, the 
Thorpes and Musgroves, who have been admitted 
as familiar guests to the firesides of so many families, 
and are known there as individually and intimately 
as if they were living neighbours. Many may care 
to know whether the moral rectitude, the correct 
taste, and the warm affections with which she in- 
vested her ideal characters, were really existing in 
the native source whence those ideas flowed, and 
were actually exhibited by her in the various rela- 
tions of life. I can indeed bear witness that there 
was scarcely a charm in her most delightful charac- 
ters that was not a true reflection of her own sweet 
temper and loving heart. I was young when we lost 
her; but the impressions made on the young are 
deep, and though in the course of fifty years I have 
forgotten much, I have not forgotten that 'Aunt 
Jane' was the delight of all her nephews and nieces. 
We did not think of her as being clever, still less as 
being famous ; but we valued her as one always kind, 
sympathising, and amusing. To all this I am a 

Jane Austen. 

living witness, but whether I can sketch out such a 
faint outline of this excellence as shall be perceptible 
to others may be reasonably doubted. Aided, how- 
ever, by a few survivors* who knew her, I will not 
refuse to make the attempt. I am the more inclined 
to undertake the task from a conviction that, however 
little I may have to tell, no one else is left who could 
tell so much of her. 

Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, at 
the Parsonage House of Steventon in Hampshire. 
Her father, the Rev. George Austen, was of a family 
long established in the neighbourhood of Tenterden 
and Sevenoaks in Kent. I believe that early in the 
seventeenth century they were clothiers. Hasted, in 
his history of Kent, says : ' The clothing business 
was exercised by persons who possessed most of the 
landed property in the Weald, insomuch that almost 
all the ancient families of these parts, now of large 
estates and genteel rank in life, and some of them 
ennobled by titles, are sprung from ancestors who 
have used this great staple manufacture, now almost 
unknown here.' In his list of these families Hasted 
places the Austens, and he adds that these clothiers 
' were usually called the Gray Coats of Kent ; and 

* My chief assistants have been my sisters, Mrs. B. Lefroy and Miss 
Austen, whose recollections of our aunt are, on some points, more vivid 
than my own. I have not only been indebted to their memory for facts, 
but have sometimes used their words. Indeed some passages towards 
the end of the work were entirely written by the latter. 

I have also to thank some of my cousins, and especially the daughters 
of Admiral Charles Austen, for the use of letters and papers which had 
passed into their hands, without which this Memoir, scanty as it is, 
could not have been written. 

A Memoir of 

were a body so numerous and united that at county 
elections whoever had their vote and interest was 
almost certain of being elected.' The family still 
retains a badge of this origin ; for their livery is of 
that peculiar mixture of light blue and white called 
Kentish gray, which forms the facings of the Kentish 

Mr. George Austen had lost both his parents before 
he was nine years old. He inherited no property 
from them ; but was happy in having a kind uncle, 
Mr. Francis Austen, a successful lawyer at Tunbridge, 
the ancestor of the Austens of Kippington, who, 
though he had children of his own, yet made liberal 
provision for his orphan nephew. The boy received 
a good education at Tunbridge School, whence he 
obtained a scholarship, and subsequently a fellowship, 
at St. John's College, Oxford. In 1764 he came into 
possession of the two adjoining Rectories of Deane 
and Steventon in Hampshire ; the former purchased 
for him by his generous uncle Francis, the latter 
given by his cousin Mr. Knight. This was no very 
gross case of plurality, according to the ideas of that 
time, for the two villages were little more than a mile 
apart, and their united populations scarcely amounted 
to three hundred. In the same year he married Cas- 
sandra, youngest daughter of the Rev. Thomas Leigh, 
of the family of Leighs of Warwickshire, who, having 
been a fellow of All Souls, held the College living of 
Harpsden, near Henley-upon-Thames. Mr. Thomas 
Leigh was a younger brother of Dr. Theophilus 
Leigh, a personage well known at Oxford in his day, 

J a?ie Austen. 5 

and his day was not a short one, for he lived to be 
ninety, and held the Mastership of Balliol College for 
above half a century. He was a man more famous 
for his sayings than his doings, overflowing with puns 
and witticisms and sharp retorts ; but his most 
serious joke was his practical one of living much 
longer than had been expected or intended. He was 
a fellow of Corpus, and the story is that the Balliol 
men, unable to agree in electing one of their own 
number to the Mastership, chose him, partly under 
the idea that he was in weak health and likely soon 
to cause another vacancy. It was afterwards said 
that his long incumbency had been a judgment on 
the Society for having elected an Out-College Man.* 
I imagine that the front of Balliol towards Broad Street 
which has recently been pulled down must have been 
built, or at least restored, while he was Master, for 
the Leigh arms were placed under the cornice at the 
■corner nearest to Trinity gates. The beautiful build- 
ing lately erected has destroyed this record, and thus 
4 monuments themselves memorials need.' 

His fame for witty and agreeable conversation ex- 
tended beyond the bounds of the University. Mrs. 
Thrale, in a letter to Dr. Johnson, writes thus : ' Are 
you acquainted with Dr. Leigh,*f- the Master of Balliol 
College, and are you not delighted with his gaiety of 

* There seems to have been some doubt as to the validity of this 
election; for Hearne says that it was referred to the Visitor, who 
confirmed it. (Hearne's Diaries, v. 2. ) 

+ Mrs. Thrale writes Dr. Le% but there can be no doubt of the 
identity of person. 

A Memoir of 

manners and youthful vivacity, now that he is eighty- 
six years of age ? I never heard a more perfect or 
excellent pun than his, when some one told him how, 
in a late dispute among the Privy Councillors, the 
Lord Chancellor struck the table with such violence 
that he split it. "No, no, no/' replied the Master; 
<e I can hardly persuade myself that he split tlie table r 
though I believe he divided the Board" ' 

Some of his sayings of course survive in family 
tradition. He was once calling on a gentleman 
notorious for never opening a book, who took him 
into a room overlooking the Bath Road, which was 
then a great thoroughfare for travellers of every class, 
saying rather pompously, ' This, Doctor, I call my 
study.' The Doctor, glancing his eye round the 
room, in which no books were to be seen, replied, 
' And very well named too, sir, for you know Pope 
tells us, " The proper study of mankind is Man'' ' 
When my father went to Oxford he was honoured 
with an invitation to dine with this dignified cousin. 
Being a raw undergraduate, unaccustomed to the 
habits of the University, he was about to take off his 
gown, as if it were a great coat, when the old man,, 
then considerably turned eighty, said, with a grim 
smile, ' Young man, you need not strip : we are not 
going to fight.' This humour remained in him so 
strongly to the last that he might almost have sup- 
plied Pope with another instance of the ruling passion 
strong in death,' for only three days before he expired, 
being told that an old acquaintance was lately married, 
having recovered from a long illness by eating eggs. 

Jane A us ten. 

and that the wits said that he had been egged on to 
matrimony, he immediately trumped the joke, saying, 
' Then may the yoke sit easy on him/ I do not 
know from what common ancestor the Master of 
Balliol and his great-niece Jane Austen, with some 
others of the family, may have derived the keen 
sense of humour which they certainly possessed. 

Mr. and Mrs. George Austen resided first at Deane, 
but removed in 1771 to Steventon, which was their 
residence for about thirty years. They commenced 
their married life with the charge of a little child, a 
son of the celebrated Warren Hastings, who had 
been committed to the care of Mr. Austen before his 
marriage, probably through the influence of his sister, 
Mrs. Hancock, whose husband at that time held 
some office under Hastings in India. Mr. Gleig, in 
his 'Life of Hastings,' says that his son George, the 
offspring of his first marriage, was sent to England 
in 1 761 for his education, but that he had never been 
able to ascertain to whom this precious charge was 
entrusted, nor what became of him. I am able to 
state, from family tradition, that he died young, of 
what was then called putrid sore throat ; and that 
Mrs. Austen had become so much attached to him 
that she always declared that his death had been as 
great a grief to her as if he had been a child of her own. 

About this time, the grandfather of Mary Russell 
Mitford, Dr. Russell, was Rector of the adjoining 
parish of Ashe ; so that the parents of two popular 
female writers must have been intimately acquainted 
with each other. 

8 A Memoir of 

As my subject carries me back about a hundred 
years, it will afford occasions for observing many 
changes gradually effected in the manners and habits 
of society, which I may think it worth while to men- 
tion. They may be little things, but time gives a 
certain importance even to trifles, as it imparts a 
peculiar flavour to wine. The most ordinary articles 
of domestic life are looked on with some interest, if 
they are brought to light alter being long buried ; 
and we feel a natural curiosity to know what was 
done and said by our forefathers, even though it may 
be nothing wiser or better than what we are daily 
doing or saying ourselves. Some of this generation 
may be little aware how many conveniences, now 
considered to be necessaries and matters of course, 
were unknown to their grandfathers and grand- 
mothers. The lane between Deane and Steventon 
has long been as smooth as the best turnpike road ; 
but when the family removed from the one residence 
to the other in 1 771, it was a mere cart track, so cut 
up by deep ruts as to be impassable for a light 
carriage. Mrs. Austen, who was not then in strong 
health, performed the short journey on a feather-bed, 
placed upon some soft articles of furniture in the 
waggon which held their household goods. In those 
days it was not unusual to set men to work with 
shovel and pickaxe to fill up ruts and holes in roads 
seldom used by carriages, on such special occasions 
as a funeral or a wedding. Ignorance and coarseness 
of language also were still lingering even upon higher 
levels of society than might have been expected to 

Jane Austen, 

retain such mists. About this time, a neighbouring 
squire, a man of many acres, referred the following 
difficulty to Mr. Austen's decision : ' You know all 
about these sort of things. Do tell us. Is Paris in 
France, or France in Paris ? for my wife has been 
disputing with me about it' The same gentleman, 
narrating some conversation which he had heard 
between the rector and his wife, represented the 
latter as beginning her reply to her husband with a 
round oath ; and when his daughter called him to 
task, reminding him that Mrs. Austen never swore, 
he replied, ' Now, Betty, why do you pull me up for 
nothing? that's neither here nor there; you know 
very well that's only my way of telling the story! 
Attention has lately been called by a celebrated writer 
to the inferiority of the clergy to the laity of England 
two centuries ago. The charge no doubt is true, if 
the rural clergy are to be compared with that higher 
section of country gentlemen who went into parlia- 
ment, and mixed in London society, and took the 
lead in their several counties ; but it might be found 
less true if they were to be compared, as in all fair- 
ness they ought to be, with that lower section with 
whom they usually associated. The smaller landed 
proprietors, who seldom went farther from home than 
their county town, from the squire with his thousand 
acres to the yeoman who cultivated his hereditary 
property of one or two hundred, then formed a 
numerous class — each the aristocrat of his own parish; 
and there was probably a greater difference in man- 
ners and refinement between this class and that im- 

IO A Memoir of 

mediately above them than could now be found 
between any two persons who rank as gentlemen. 
For in the progress of civilisation, though all orders 
may make some progress, yet it is most perceptible 
in the lower. It is a process of ' levelling up ; ' the 
rear rank ' dressing up/ as it were, close to the front 
rank. When Hamlet mentions, as something which 
he had 'for three years taken note of,' that ' the toe of 
the peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier,' it 
was probably intended by Shakspeare as a satire on 
his own times ; but it expressed a principle which is 
working at all times in which society makes any 
progress. I believe that a century ago the improve- 
ment in most country parishes began with the clergy ;. 
and that in those days a rector who chanced to be a 
gentleman and a scholar found himself superior to his 
chief parishioners in information and manners, and 
became a sort of centre of refinement and politeness. 

Mr. Austen was a remarkably good-looking man, 
both in his youth and his old age. During his year 
of office at Oxford he had been called ' the handsome 
Proctor ;' and at Bath, when more than seventy years 
old, lie attracted observation by his fine features and 
abundance of snow-white hair. Being a good scholar 
he was able to prepare two of his sons for the Univer- 
sity, and to direct the studies of his other children, 
whether sons or daughters, as well as to increase his 
income by taking pupils. 

In Mrs. Austen also was to be found the germ of 
much of the ability which was concentrated in Jane,, 
but' of which others of her children had a share. She 

Jane Austen. ir 

united strong common sense with a lively imagina- 
tion, and often expressed herself, both in writing and 
in conversation, with epigrammatic force and point. 
She lived, like many of her family, to an advanced 
age. During the last years of her life she endured 
continual pain, not only patiently but with character- 
istic cheerfulness. She once said to me, ' Ah, my 
dear, you find me just where you left me — on the sofa. 
I sometimes think that God Almighty must have 
forgotten me ; but I dare say He will come for me in 
His own good time.' She died and was buried at 
Chawton, January 1827, aged eighty-eight. 

Her own family were so much, and the rest of the 
world so little, to Jane Austen, that some brief men- 
tion of her brothers and sister is necessary in order to 
give any idea of the objects which principally occu- 
pied her thoughts and filled her heart, especially as 
some of them, from their characters or professions in 
life, may be supposed to have had more or less influ- 
ence on her writings : though I feel some reluctance 
in bringing before public notice persons and circum- 
stances essentially private. 

Her eldest brother James, my own father, had, when- 
a very young man, at St. John's College, Oxford, been 
the originator and chief supporter of a periodical 
paper called ' The Loiterer/ written somewhat on 
the plan of the ' Spectator' and its successors, but 
nearly confined to subjects connected with the Uni- 
versity. In after life he used to speak very slight- 
ingly of this early work, which he had the better right 

12 A Memoir of 

to do, as, whatever may have been the degree of their 
merits, the best papers had certainly been written by 
himself. He was well read in English literature, had 
a correct taste, and wrote readily and happily, both 
in prose and verse. He was more than ten years 
older than Jane, and had, I believe, a large share in 
directing her reading and forming her taste. 

Her second brother, Edward, had been a good deal 
separated from the rest of the family, as he was early 
adopted by his cousin, Mr. Knight, of Godmersham 
Park in Kent and Chawton House in Hampshire ; 
.and finally came into possession both of the property 
and the name. But though a good deal separated in 
childhood, they were much together in after life, and 
Jane gave a large share of her affections to him and 
his children. Mr. Knight was not only a very amiable 
man, kind and indulgent to all connected with him, 
but possessed also a spirit of fun and liveliness, which 
made him especially delightful to all young people. 

Her third brother, Henry, had great conversational 
powers, and inherited from his father an eager and 
sanguine disposition. He was a very entertaining 
companion, but had perhaps less steadiness of pur- 
pose, certainly less success in life, than his brothers. 
He became a clergyman when middle-aged ; and an 
allusion to his sermons will be found in one of Jane's 
letters. At one time he resided in London, and was 
useful in transacting his sister's business with her 

Her two youngest brothers, Francis and Charles, 
were sailors during that glorious period of the British 

Jane Austen. 13, 

navy which comprises the close of the last and the 
beginning of the present century, when it was impos- 
sible for an officer to be almost always afloat, as these 
brothers were, without seeing service which, in these 
days, would be considered distinguished. Accord- 
ingly, they were continually engaged in actions of 
more or less importance, and sometimes gained pro- 
motion by their success. Both rose to the rank 
of Admiral, and carried out their flags to distant 

Francis lived to attain the very summit of his pro- 
fession, having died, in his ninety-third year, G.C.B. 
and Senior Admiral of the Fleet, in 1865. He pos- 
sessed great firmness of character, with a strong sense 
of duty, whether due from himself to others, or from 
others to himself. He was consequently a strict dis- 
ciplinarian ; but, as he was a very religious man, it 
was remarked of him (for in those days, at least, it 
was remarkable) that he maintained this discipline 
without ever uttering an oath or permitting one in 
his presence. On one occasion, when ashore in a sea- 
side town, he was spoken of as 'the officer who 
kneeled at church ;' a custom which now happily 
would not be thought peculiar. 

Charles was generally serving in frigates or sloops ;. 
blockading harbours, driving the ships of the enemy 
ashore, boarding gun-boats, and frequently making 
small prizes. At one time he was absent from Eng- 
land on such services for seven years together. In 
later life he commanded the Bellerophon, at the bom- 
bardment of St. Jean d'Acre in 1840. In 1850 he 

14 A Memoir of 

went out in the Hastings, in command of the East 
India and China station, but on the breaking out of 
the Burmese war he transferred his flag to a steam 
sloop, for the purpose of getting up the shallow 
waters of the Irrawaddy, on board of which he died 
of cholera in 1852, in the seventy-fourth year of his 
age. His sweet temper and affectionate disposition, 
in which he resembled his sister Jane, had secured to 
him an unusual portion of attachment, not only from 
his own family, but from all the officers and common 
sailors who served under him. One who was with 
him at his death has left this record of him : ' Our 
good Admiral won the hearts of all by his gentleness 
and kindness while he was struggling with disease, 
and endeavouring to do his duty as Commander-in- 
chief of the British naval forces in these waters. His 
death was a great grief to the whole fleet. I know 
that I cried bitterly when I found he was dead/ The 
Order in Council of the Governor- General of India, 
Lord Dalhousie, expresses ' admiration of the staunch 
high spirit which, notwithstanding his age and pre- 
vious sufferings, had led the Admiral to take his part 
in the trying service which has closed his career/ 

These two brothers have been dwelt on longer than 
the others because their honourable career accounts 
for Jane Austen's partiality for the Navy, as well as 
for the readiness and accuracy with which she wrote 
about it. She was always very careful not to meddle 
with matters which she did not thoroughly understand. 
She never touched upon politics, law, or medicine, 
subjects which some novel writers have ventured on 

Jane Austen. m 

rather too boldly, and have treated, perhaps, with 
more brilliancy than accuracy. But with ships and 
sailors she felt herself at home, or at least could 
always trust to a brotherly critic to keep her right. 
I believe that no flaw has ever been found in her 
seamanship either in ' Mansfield Park ' or in ' Per- 

But dearest of all to the heart of Jane was her 
sister Cassandra, about three years her senior. Their 
sisterly affection for each other could scarcely be ex- 
ceeded. Perhaps it began on Jane's side with the 
feeling of deference natural to a loving child towards 
a kind elder sister. Something of this feeling always 
remained; and even in the maturity of her powers, 
and in the enjoyment of increasing success, she would 
still speak of Cassandra as of one wiser and better 
than herself. In childhood, when the elder was sent 
to the school of a Mrs. Latournelle, in the Forbury 
at Reading, the younger went with her, not because 
she was thought old enough to profit much by the 
instruction there imparted, but because she would 
have been miserable without her sister ; her mother 
observing that ' if Cassandra were going to have her 
head cut off, Jane would insist on sharing her fate.' 
This attachment was never interrupted or weakened. 
They lived in the same home, and shared the same 
bed-room, till separated by death. They were not 
exactly alike. Cassandra's was the colder and calmer 
disposition ; she was always prudent and well judging, 
but with less outward demonstration of feeling and 
less sunniness of temper than Jane possessed. It was 

1 6 A Memoir of 

remarked in her family that ' Cassandra had the merit 
of having her temper always under command, but 
that Jane had the happiness of a temper that never 
required to be commanded/ When ' Sense and 
Sensibility' came out, some persons, who knew the 
family slightly, surmised that the two elder Miss 
Dashwoods were intended by the author for her sister 
and herself; but this could not be the case. Cas- 
sandra's character might indeed represent the i sense ' 
of Elinor, but Jane's had little in common with the 
'sensibility' of Marianne. The young woman who, 
before the age of twenty, could so clearly discern the 
failings of Marianne Dashwood, could hardly have 
been subject to them herself. 

This was the small circle, continually enlarged, 
however, by the increasing families of four of her 
brothers, within which Jane Austen found her whole- 
some pleasures, duties, and interests, and beyond which 
she went very little into society during the last ten 
years of her life. There was so much that was agree- 
able and attractive in this family party that its 
members may be excused if they were inclined to- 
live somewhat too exclusively within it. They might 
see in each other much to love and esteem, and 
something to admire. The family talk had abun- 
dance of spirit and vivacity, and was never troubled 
by disagreements even in little matters, for it was not 
their habit to dispute or argue with each other : above 
all, there was strong family affection and firm union, 
never to be broken but by death. It cannot be 
doubted that all this had its influence on the author 

Jane A listen. 1 7 

in the construction of her stories, in which a family 
party usually supplies the narrow stage, while the 
interest is made to revolve round a few actors. 

It will be seen also that though her circle of society 
was small, yet she found in her neighbourhood persons 
of good taste and cultivated minds. Her acquaint- 
ance, in fact, constituted the very class from which 
she took her imaginary characters, ranging from the 
member of parliament, or large landed proprietor, to 
the young curate or younger midshipman of equally 
good family ; and I think that the influence of these 
early associations may be traced in her writings, 
especially in two particulars. First, that she is 
entirely free from the vulgarity, which is so offensive 
in some novels, of dwelling on the outward ap- 
pendages of wealth or rank, as if they were things to 
which the writer was unaccustomed ; and, secondly, 
that she deals as little with very low as with, very 
high stations in life. She does not go lower than the 
Miss Steeles, Mrs. Elton, and John Thorpe, people of 
bad taste and underbred manners, such as are actually 
found sometimes mingling with better society. She 
has nothing resembling the Brangtons, or Mr. Dubster 
and his friend Tom Hicks, with whom Madame 
D'Arblay loved to season her stories, and to produce 
striking contrasts to her well bred characters. 

1 8 A Memoir of 


Description of Steventon — Life at Steventon— Changes of Habits and 
Customs i?i the last Century. 

As the first twenty-five years, more than half of the 
brief life of Jane Austen, were spent in the parsonage 
of Steventon, some description of that place ought to 
be given. Steventon is a small rural village upon the 
chalk hills of north Hants, situated in a winding 
valley about seven miles from Basingstoke. The 
South- Western railway crosses it by a short embank- 
ment, and, as it curves round, presents a good view of 
it on the left hand to those who are travelling down 
the line, about three miles before entering the tunnel 
under Popham Beacon. It may be known to some 
sportsmen, as lying in one of the best portions of the 
Vine Hunt. It is certainly not a picturesque country ; 
it presents no grand or extensive views ; but the 
features are small rather than plain. The surface 
continually swells and sinks, but the hills are not 
bold, nor the valleys deep ; and though it is sufficiently 
well clothed with woods and hedgerows, yet the 
poverty of the soil in most places prevents the timber 
from attaining a large size. Still it has its beauties. 
The lanes wind along in a natural curve, continually 

Jane Austen. 19 

fringed with irregular borders of native turf, and lead 
to pleasant nooks and corners. One who knew and 
loved it well very happily expressed its quiet charms, 
when he wrote 

True taste is not fastidious, nor rejects, 
Because they may not come within the rule 
Of composition pure and picturesque, 
Unnumbered simple scenes which fill the leaves 
Of Nature's sketch book. 

Of this somewhat tame country, Steventon, from 
the fall of the ground, and the abundance of its timber, 
is certainly one of the prettiest spots ; yet one cannot 
be surprised that, when Jane's mother, a little before 
her marriage, was shown the scenery of her future 
home, she should have thought it unattractive, com- 
pared with the broad river, the rich valley, and the 
noble hills which she had been accustomed to behold 
at her native home near Henley-upon-Thames. 

The house itself stood in a shallow valley, sur- 
rounded by sloping meadows, well sprinkled with elm 
trees, at the end of a small village of cottages, each 
well provided with a garden, scattered about prettily 
on either side of the road. It was sufficiently com- 
modious to hold pupils in addition to a growing 
family, and was in those times considered to be above 
the average of parsonages; but the rooms were 
finished with less elegance than would now be found 
in the most ordinary dwellings. No cornice marked 
the junction of wall and ceiling ; while the beams 
which supported the upper floors projected into the 
rooms below in all their naked simplicity, covered 

20 A Memoir of 

only by. a coat of paint or whitewash: accordingly 
it has since been considered unworthy of being the 
Rectory house of a family living, and about forty- 
five years ago it was pulled down for the purpose of 
erecting a new house in a far better situation on the 
opposite side of the valley. 

North of the house, the road from Deane to Pop- 
ham Lane ran at a sufficient distance from the front 
to allow a carriage drive, through turf and trees. On 
the south side the ground rose gently, and was occu- 
pied by one of those old-fashioned gardens in which 
vegetables and flowers are combined, flanked and 
protected on the east by one of the thatched mud 
walls common in that country, and overshadowed by 
fine elms. Along the upper or southern side of this 
garden, ran a terrace of the finest turf, which must 
have been in the writer's thoughts when she described 
Catharine Morland's childish delight in ' rolling down 
the green slope at the back of the house/ 

But the chief beauty of Steventon consisted in its 
hedgerows. A hedgerow, in that country, does not 
mean a thin formal line of quickset, but an irregular 
border of copse-wood and timber, often wide enough 
to contain within it a winding footpath, or a rough 
cart track. Under its shelter the earliest primroses, 
anemones, and wild hyacinths were to be found ; 
sometimes, the first bird's-nest; and, now and then, 
the unwelcome adder. Two such hedgerows radiated, 
as it were, from the parsonage garden. One, a con- 
tinuation of the turf terrace, proceeded westward, 
forming the southern boundary of the home meadows ; 

Jane Austen. 21 

and was formed into a rustic shrubbery, with occa- 
sional seats, entitled ' The Wood Walk/ The other 
ran straight up the hill, under the name of ' The 
Church Walk/ because it led to the parish church, as 
well as to a fine old manor-house, of Henry VIII/s 
time, occupied by a family named Digweed, who have 
for more than a century rented it, together with the 
chief farm in the parish. The church itself — I speak 
of it as it then was, before the improvements made 
by the present rector — 

A little spireless fane, 
Just seen above the woody lane, 

might have appeared mean and uninteresting to an 
ordinary observer ; but the adept in church architec- 
ture would have known that it must have stood there 
some seven centuries, and would have found beauty 
in the very narrow early English windows, as well as 
in the general proportions of its little chancel ; while 
its solitary position, far from the hum of the village, 
and within sight of no habitation, except a glimpse of 
the gray manor-house through its circling screen of 
sycamores, has in it something solemn and appro- 
priate to the last resting-place of the silent dead, 
Sweet violets, both purple and white, grow in abun- 
dance beneath its south wall. One may imagine for 
how many centuries the ancestors of those little 
flowers have occupied that undisturbed, sunny nook, 
•and may think how few living families can boast of 
as ancient a tenure of their land. Large elms pro- 
trude their rough branches ; old hawthorns shed their 

A Memoir of 

annual blossoms over the graves; and the hollow 
yew-tree must be at least coeval with the church. 

But whatever may be the beauties or defects of the 
surrounding scenery, this was the residence of Jane 
Austen for twenty-five years. This was the cradle of 
her genius. These were the first objects which in- 
spired her young heart with a sense of the beauties 
of nature. In strolls along those wood-walks, thick- 
coming fancies rose in her mind, and gradually as- 
sumed the forms in which they came forth to the 
world. In that simple church she brought them all 
into subjection to the piety which ruled her in life, 
[^ and supported her in death. 

The home at Steventon must have been, for many 
years, a pleasant and prosperous one. The family 
was unbroken by death, and seldom visited by sorrow. 
Their situation had some peculiar advantages beyond 
those of ordinary rectories. Steventon was a family 
living. Mr. Knight, the patron, was also proprietor 
of nearly the whole parish. He never resided there, 
and consequently the rector and his children came to 
be regarded in the neighbourhood as a kind of re- 
presentatives of the family. They shared with the 
principal tenant the command of an excellent manor, 
and enjoyed, in this reflected way, some of the con- 
sideration usually awarded to landed proprietors. 
They were not rich, but, aided by Mr. Austen's powers 
of teaching, they had enough to afford a good educa- 
tion to their sons and daughters, to mix in the best 
society of the neighbourhood, and to exercise a liberal 
hospitality to their own relations and friends. A 

( Jane Austen. 23 

carriage and a pair of horses were kept. This might 
imply a higher style of living in our days than it did 
in theirs. There were then no assessed taxes. The 
carriage, once bought, entailed little further expense ; 
and the horses probably, like Mr. Bennet's, were often 
employed on farm work. Moreover, it should be re- 
membered that a pair of horses in those days were 
almost necessary, if ladies were to move about at all ; 
for neither the condition of the roads nor the style of 
carriage-building admitted of any comfortable vehicle 
being drawn by a single horse. When one looks at 
the few specimens still remaining of coach-building in 
the last century, it strikes one that the chief object of 
the builders must have been to combine the greatest 
possible weight with the least possible amount of 

The family lived in close intimacy with two cousins, 
Edward and Jane Cooper, the children of Mrs. 
Austen's eldest sister, and Dr. Cooper, the vicar of 
Sonning, near Reading. The Coopers lived for some 
years at Bath, which seems to have been much fre- 
quented in those days by clergymen retiring from 
work. I believe that Cassandra and Jane sometimes 
visited them there, and that Jane thus acquired the 
intimate knowledge of the topography and customs 
of Bath, which enabled her to write ' Northanger 
Abbey ' long before she resided there herself. After 
the death of their own parents, the two young Coopers 
paid long visits at Steventon. Edward Cooper did 
not live undistinguished. When an undergraduate at 
Oxford, he gained the prize for Latin hexameters on 

24 A Memoir of 

c Hortus Anglicus ' in 1791 ; and in later life he was 
known by a work on prophecy, called * The Crisis/ 
and other religious publications, especially for several 
volumes of Sermons, much preached in many pulpits 
in my youth. Jane Cooper was married from her 
uncle's house at Steventon, to Captain, afterwards Sir 
Thomas Williams, under whom Charles Austen served 
in several ships. She was a dear friend of her name- 
sake, but was fated to become a cause of great sorrow 
to her, for a few years after the marriage she was 
suddenly killed by an accident to her carriage. 

There was another cousin closely associated with 
them at Steventon, who must have introduced greater 
variety into the family circle. This was the daughter 
of Mr. Austen's only sister, Mrs. Hancock. This 
cousin had been educated in Paris, and married to a 
Count de Feuillade, of whom I know little more than 
that he perished by the guillotine during the French 
Revolution. Perhaps his chief offence was his rank ; 
but it was said that the charge of ' incivism/ under 
which he suffered, rested on the fact of his having 
laid down some arable land into pasture — a sure sign 
of his intention to embarrass the Republican Govern- 
ment by producing a famine ! His wife escaped 
through dangers and difficulties to England, was re- 
ceived for some time into her uncle's family, and 
finally married her cousin Henry Austen. During 
the short peace of Amiens, she and her second hus- 
band went to France, in the hope of recovering some 
of the Count's property, and there narrowly escaped 
being included amongst the detenus. Orders had 

JciJie Austen. 25 

been given by Buonaparte's government to detain all 
English travellers, but at the post-houses Mrs. Henry 
Austen gave the necessary orders herself, and her 
French was so perfect that she passed everywhere for 
a native, and her husband escaped under this pro- 

She was a clever woman, and highly accomplished, 
after the French rather than the English mode ; and 
in those days, when intercourse with the Continent 
was long interrupted by war, such an element in the 
society of a country parsonage must have been a 
rare acquisition. The sisters may have been more 
indebted to this cousin than to Mrs. La Tournelle's 
teaching for the considerable knowledge of French 
which they possessed. She also took the principal 
parts in the private theatricals in which the family 
several times indulged, having their summer theatre 
in the barn, and their winter one within the narrow 
limits of the dining-room, where the number of the 
audience must have been very limited. On these 
occasions, the prologues and epilogues were written 
by Jane's eldest brother, and some of them are very 
vigorous and amusing. Jane was only twelve years 
old at the time of the earliest of these representa- 
tions, and not more than fifteen when the last took 
place. She was, however, an early observer, and it 
may be reasonably supposed that some of the in- 
cidents and feelings which are so vividly painted in 
the Mansfield Park theatricals are due to her recol- 
lections of these entertainments. 

Some time before they left Steventon, one great 

26 A Memoir of 

affliction came upon the family. Cassandra was en- 
gaged to be married to a young clergyman. He had 
not sufficient private fortune to permit an immediate 
union ; but the engagement was not likely to be a 
hopeless or a protracted one, for he had a prospect 
of early preferment from a nobleman with whom he 
was connected both by birth and by personal friend- 
ship. He accompanied this friend to the West Indies, 
as chaplain to his regiment, and there died of yellow 
fever, to the great concern of his friend and patron, 
who afterwards declared that, if he had known of 
the engagement, he would not have permitted him 
to go out to such a climate. This little domestic 
tragedy caused great and lasting grief to the prin- 
cipal sufferer, and could not but cast a gloom over 
the whole party. The sympathy of Jane was pro- 
bably, from her age, and her peculiar attachment to 
her sister, the deepest of all. 

Of Jane herself I know of no such definite tale of 
love to relate. Her reviewer in the 'Quarterly* of 
January 182 1 observes, concerning the attachment 
of Fanny Price to Edmund Bertram : ' The silence in 
which this passion is cherished, the slender hopes and 
enjoyments by which it is fed, the restlessness and 
jealousy with which it fills a mind naturally active, 
contented, and unsuspicious, the manner in which 
it tinges every event, and every reflection, are painted 
with a vividness and a detail of which we can scarcely 
conceive any one but a female, and we should almost 
add, a female writing from recollection, capable.' 
This conjecture, however probable, was wide of the 

Jane Austen. 27 

mark. The picture was drawn from the intuitive 
perceptions of genius, not from personal experience. 
In no circumstance of her life was there any simi- 
larity between herself and her heroine in ' Mansfield 
Park.' She did not indeed pass through life without 
being the object of warm affection. In her youth 
she had declined the addresses of a gentleman who 
had the recommendations of good character, and con- 
nections, and position in life, of everything, in fact, 
except the subtle power of touching her heart. There 
is, however, one passage of romance in her history 
with which I am imperfectly acquainted, and to 
which I am unable to assign name, or date, or place, 
though I have it on sufficient authority. Many years 
after her death, some circumstances induced her sister 
Cassandra to break through her habitual reticence, 
and to speak of it. She said that, while staying at 
some seaside place, they became acquainted with a 
gentleman, whose charm of person, mind, and man- 
ners was such that Cassandra thought him worthy 
to possess and likely to win her sister's love. When 
they parted, he expressed his intention of soon seeing 
them again ; and Cassandra felt no doubt as to his 
motives. But they never again met. Within a short 
time they heard of his sudden death. I believe that, 
if Jane ever loved, it was this unnamed gentleman ; 
but the acquaintance had been short, and I am 
unable to say whether her feelings were of such a 
nature as to affect her happiness. 

Any description that I might attempt of the family 
life at Steventon, which closed soon after I was born, 

28 A Memoir of 

could be little better than a fancy-piece. There is 
no doubt that if we look into the households of the 
clergy and the small gentry of that period, we should 
see some things which would seem strange to us, and 
should miss many more to which we are accustomed. 
Every hundred years, and especially a century like 
the last, marked by an extraordinary advance in 
wealth, luxury, and refinement of taste, as well as in 
the mechanical arts which embellish our houses, must 
produce a great change in their aspect. These 
changes are always at work ; they are going on now, 
but so silently that we take no note of them. Men 
soon forget the small objects which they leave behind 
them as they drift down the stream of life. As Pope 
says — 

Nor does life's stream for observation stay ; 
It hurries all too fast to mark their way. 

Important inventions, such as the applications of 
steam, gas, and electricity, may find their places in 
history ; but not so the alterations, great as they may 
be, which have taken place in the appearance of our 
dining and drawing-rooms. Who can now record the 
degrees by which the custom prevalent in my youth 
of asking each other to take wine together at dinner 
became obsolete ? Who will be able to fix, twenty 
years hence, the date when our dinners began to be 
carved and handed round by servants, instead of 
smoking before our eyes and noses on the table ? To 
record such little matters would indeed be ' to chro- 
nicle small beer/ But, in a slight memoir like this, 

Jane A listen. 29 

I may be allowed to note some of those changes in 
social habits which give a colour to history, but 
which the historian has the greatest difficulty in re- 

At that time the dinner-table presented a far less 
splendid appearance than it does now. It was ap- 
propriated to solid food, rather than to flowers, fruits, 
and decorations. Nor was there much glitter of plate 
upon it ; for the early dinner hour rendered candle- 
sticks unnecessary, and silver forks had not come 
into general use : while the broad rounded end of the 
knives indicated the substitute generally used instead 
of them.* 

The dinners too were more homely, though not 
less plentiful and savoury ; and the bill of fare in one 
house would not be so like that in another as it is 
now, for family receipts were held in high estimation. 
A grandmother of culinary talent could bequeath to 
her descendant fame for some particular dish, and 

* The celebrated Beau Brummel, who was so intimate with George IV. 
as to be able to quarrel with him, was born in 1771. It is reported 
that when he was questioned about his parents, he replied that it was 
long since he had heard of them, but that he imagined the worthy 
couple must have cut their own throats by that time, because when he 
last saw them they were eating peas with their knives. Yet Brummel's 
father had probably lived in good society ; and was certainly able to 
put his son into a fashionable regiment, and to leave him 30,000/.' 
Raikes believes that he had been Secretary to Lord North, Thackeray's 
idea that he had been a footman cannot stand against the authority of 
Raikes, who was intimate with the son. 

1 Raikes's Memoirs, vol. iL p. 207. 

30 A Memoir of 

might influence the family dinner for many gene- 

Dos est magna parentium 

One house would pride itself on its ham, another on 
its game-pie, and a third on its superior furmity, or 
tansey-pudding. Beer and home-made wines, espe- 
cially mead, were more largely consumed. Veget- 
ables were less plentiful and less various. Potatoes 
were used, but not so abundantly as now ; and there 
was an idea that they were to be eaten only with 
roast meat They were novelties to a tenant's wife 
who was entertained at Steventon Parsonage, cer- 
tainly less than a hundred years ago ; and when Mrs. 
Austen advised her to plant them in her own garden, 
she replied, 'No, no; they are very well for you 
gentry, but they must be terribly costly to rear' 

But a still greater difference would be found in the 
furniture of the rooms, which would appear to us 
lamentably scanty. There was a general deficiency 
of carpeting in sitting-rooms, bed-rooms ? and passages. 
A pianoforte, or rather a spinnet or harpsichord, was 
by no means a necessary appendage. It was to be 
found only where there was a decided taste for music, 
not so common then as now, or in such great houses 
as would probably contain a billiard-table. There 
would often be but one sofa in the house, and that a 
stiff, angular, uncomfortable article. There were no 
deep easy-chairs, nor other appliances for lounging ; 
for to lie down, or even to lean back, was a luxury 

Jane A listen. 3 1 

permitted only to old persons or invalids. It was 
said of a nobleman, a personal friend of George III. 
and a model gentleman of his day, that he would 
have made the tour of Europe without ever touching 
the back of his travelling carriage. But perhaps we 
should be most struck with the total absence of those 
elegant little articles which now embellish and en- 
cumber our drawing-room tables. We should miss 
the sliding bookcases and picture-stands, the letter- 
weighing machines and envelope cases, the periodicals 
and illustrated newspapers — above all, the countless 
swarm of photograph books which now threaten to 
swallow up all space. A small writing-desk, with a 
smaller work-box, or netting-case, was all that each 
young lady contributed to occupy the table ; for the 
large family work-basket, though often produced in 
the parlour, lived in the closet. 

There must have been more dancing throughout 
the country in those days than there is now : and it 
seems to have sprung up more spontaneously, as if it 
were a natural production, with less fastidiousness as 
to the quality of music, lights, and floor. Many 
country towns had a monthly ball throughout the 
winter, in some of which the same apartment served 
for dancing and tea-room. Dinner parties more fre- 
quently ended with an extempore dance on the 
c.arpet, to the music of a harpsichord in the house, or 
a fiddle from the village. This was always supposed 
to be for the entertainment of the young people, but 
many, who had little pretension to youth, were very 
ready to join in it. There can be no doubt that 

33 A Memoir of 

Jane herself enjoyed dancing, for she attributes this 
taste to her favourite heroines ; in most of her works, 
a ball or a private dance is mentioned, and made of 

Many things connected with the ball-rooms of 
those days have now passed into oblivion. The 
barbarous law which confined the lady to one partner 
throughout the evening must indeed have been abo- 
lished before Jane went to balls. It must be ob- 
served, however, that this custom was in one respect 
advantageous to the gentleman, inasmuch as it ren- 
dered his duties more practicable. He was bound to 
call upon his partner the next morning, and it must 
have been convenient to have only one lady for 
whom he was obliged 

To gallop all the country over, 
The last night's partner to behold, 
And humbly hope she caught no cold. 

But the stately minuet still reigned supreme; and 
every regular ball commenced with it It was a 
slow and solemn movement, expressive of grace and 
dignity, rather than of merriment It abounded in 
formal bows and courtesies, with measured paces, 
forwards, backwards and sideways, and many com- 
plicated gyrations. It was executed by one lady 
and gentleman, amidst the admiration, or the criti- 
cism, of surrounding spectators. In its earlier and 
most palmy days, as when Sir Charles and Lady 
Grandison delighted the company by dancing it at 
their own wedding, the gentleman wore a dress 

Jane A listen. 33 

sword, and the lady was armed with a fan of nearly 
equal dimensions. Addison observes that 'women 
are armed with fans, as men with swords, and some- 
times do more execution with them/ The graceful 
carriage of each weapon was considered a test of 
high breeding. The clownish man was in danger of 
being tripped up by his sword getting between his 
legs : the fan held clumsily looked more of a burden 
than an ornament ; while in the hands of an adept 
it could be made to speak a language of its own * 
It was not everyone who felt qualified to make this 
public exhibition, and I have been told that those 
ladies who intended to dance minuets, used to distin- 
guish themselves from others by wearing a particular 
kind of lappet on their head-dress. I have heard 
also of another curious proof of the respect in which 
this dance was held. Gloves immaculately clean 
were considered requisite for its due performance, 
while gloves a little soiled were thought good enough 
for a country dance ; and accordingly some prudent 
ladies provided themselves with two pairs for their 
several purposes. The minuet expired with the last 
century : but long after it had ceased to be danced 
publicly it was taught to boys and girls, in order to 
give them a graceful carriage. 

* See * Spectator,' No. 102, on the Fan Exercise. Old gentlemen 
who had survived the fashion of wearing swords were known to regret 
the disuse of that custom, because it put an end to one way of dis- 
tinguishing those who had, from those who had not, been used to good 
society. To wear the sword easily was an art which, like swimming 
and skating, required to be learned in youth. Children could practise 
it early with their toy swords adapted to their size. 


34 A Memoir of 

Hornpipes, cotillons, and reels, were occasionally- 
danced ; but the chief occupation of the evening was 
the interminable country dance, in which all could 
join. This dance presented a great show of enjoy- 
ment, but it was not without its peculiar troubles. 
The ladies and gentlemen were ranged apart from each 
other in opposite rows, so that the facilities for flirta- 
tion, or interesting intercourse, were not so great as 
might have been desired by both parties. Much 
heart-burning and discontent sometimes arose as to 
who should stand above whom, and especially as to 
who was entitled to the high privilege of calling and 
leading off the first dance : and no little indignation 
was felt at the lower end of the room when any of 
the leading couples retired prematurely from their 
duties, and did not condescend to dance up and 
down the whole set. We may rejoice that these 
causes of irritation no longer exist ; and that if such 
feelings as jealousy, rivalry, and discontent ever touch 
celestial bosoms in the modern ball-room they must 
arise from different and more recondite sources. 

I am tempted to add a little about the difference 
of personal habits. It may be asserted as a general 
truth, that less was left to the charge and discretion 
of servants, and more was done, or superintended, by 
the masters and mistresses. With regard to the mis- 
tresses, it is, I believe, generally understood, that at 
the time to which I refer, a hundred years ago, they 
took a personal part in the higher branches of cook- 
ery, as well as in the concoction of home-made wines, 
and distilling of herbs for domestic medicines, which 
are nearly allied to the same art. Ladies did not dis- 

Jane Austen. 35 

dain to spin the thread of which the household linen 
was woven. Some ladies liked to wash with their 
own hands their choice china after breakfast or tea. 
In one of my earliest child's books, a little girl, the 
daughter of a gentleman, is taught by her mother to 
make her own bed before leaving her chamber. It 
was not so much that they had not servants to do all 
these things for them, as that they took an interest in 
such occupations. And it must be borne in mind 
how many sources of interest enjoyed by this genera- 
tion were then closed, or very scantily opened to 
ladies. A very small minority of them cared much 
for literature or science. Music was not a very com- 
mon, and drawing was a still rarer, accomplishment ; 
needlework, in some form or other, was their chief 
sedentary employment. 

But I doubt whether the rising generation are 
equally aware how much gentlemen also did for 
themselves in those times, and whether some things 
that I can mention will not be a surprise to them. 
Two homely proverbs were held in higher estimation 
in my early days than they are now — 'The master's 
eye makes the horse fat ;' and, ' If you would be well 
served, serve yourself.' Some gentlemen took plea- 
sure in being their own gardeners, performing all the 
scientific, and some of the manual, work themselves. 
Well-dressed young men of my acquaintance, who had 
their coat from a London tailor, would always brush 
their evening suit themselves, rather than entrust 
it to the carelessness of a rough servant, and to 
the risks of dirt and grease in the kitchen ; for in 

36 A Memoir of 

those days servants' halls were not common in the 
houses of the clergy and the smaller country gentry. 
It was quite natural that Catherine Morland should 
have contrasted the magnificence of the offices at 
Northanger Abbey with the few shapeless pantries 
in her father's parsonage. A young man who ex- 
pected to have his things packed or unpacked for him 
by a servant, when he travelled, would have been 
thought exceptionally fine, or exceptionally lazy. 
When my uncle undertook to teach me to shoot, his 
first lesson was how to clean my own gun. It was 
thought meritorious on the evening of a hunting day, 
to turn out after dinner, lanthorn in hand, and visit 
the stable, to ascertain that the horse had been well 
cared for. This was of the more importance, because, 
previous to the introduction of clipping, about the 
year 1820, it was a difficult and tedious work to make 
a long-coated hunter dry and comfortable, and was 
often very imperfectly done. Of course, such things 
were not practised by those who had gamekeepers, 
and stud-grooms, and plenty of well-trained servants ; 
but they were practised by many who were unequi- 
vocally gentlemen, and whose grandsons, occupying 
the same position in life, may perhaps be astonished 
at being told that e such things were' 

I have drawn pictures for which my own expe- 
rience, or what I heard from others in my youth, 
have supplied the materials. Of course, they cannot 
be universally applicable. Such details varied in 
various circles, and were changed very gradually ; nor 
can I pretend to tell how much of what I have said 

Jane Austen. 37 

is descriptive of the family life at Steventon in Jane 
Austen's youth. I am sure that the ladies there had 
nothing to do with the mysteries of the stew-pot or 
the preserving-pan ; but it is probable that their way 
of life differed a little from ours, and would have ap- 
peared to us more homely. It may be that useful 
articles, which would not now be produced in drawing- 
rooms, were hemmed, and marked, and darned in the 
old-fashioned parlour. But all this concerned only 
the outer life ; there was as much cultivation and re- 
finement of mind as now, with probably more studied 
courtesy and ceremony of manner to visitors ; whilst 
certainly in that family literary pursuits were not 

I remember to have heard of only two little things 
different from modern customs. One was, that on 
hunting mornings the young men usually took their 
hasty breakfast in the kitchen. The early hour at 
which hounds then met may account for this ; and 
probably the custom began, if it did not end, when 
they were boys ; for they hunted at an early age, in a 
scrambling sort of way, upon any pony or donkey 
that they could procure, or, in default of such luxuries, 
on foot. I have been told that Sir Francis Austen, 
when seven years old, bought on his own account, it 
must be supposed with his father's permission, a pony 
for a guinea and a half; and after riding him with 
great success for two seasons, sold him for a guinea 
more. One may wonder how the child could have so 
much money, and how the animal could have been 
obtained for so little. The same authority informs 

38 A Memoir of 

me that his first cloth suit was made from a scarlet 
habit, which, according to the fashion of the times, 
had been his mother's usual morning dress. If all 
this is true, the future admiral of the British Fleet 
must have cut a conspicuous figure in the hunting- 
field. The other peculiarity was that, when the roads 
were dirty, the sisters took long walks in pattens. 
This defence against wet and dirt is now seldom seen. 
The few that remain are banished from good society, 
and employed only in menial work ; but a hundred 
and fifty years ago they were celebrated in poetry, 
and considered so clever a contrivance that Gay, in 
his ' Trivia/ ascribes the invention to a god stimulated 
by his passion for a mortal damsel, and derives the 
name ' Patten ' from 'Patty/ 

The patten now supports each frugal dame, 
Which from the blue-eyed Patty takes the name. 

But mortal damsels have long ago discarded the 
clumsy implement. First it dropped its iron ring and 
became a clog ; afterwards it was fined down into the 
pliant galoshe— lighter to wear and more effectual to 
protect — a no less manifest instance of gradual im- 
provement than Cowper indicates when he traces 
through eighty lines of poetry his 'accomplished sofa* 
back to the original three-legged stool. 

As an illustration of the purposes which a patten 
was intended to serve, I add the following epigram, 
written by Jane Austen's uncle, Mr. Leigh Perrot, on 
reading in a newspaper the marriage of Captain Foote 
to Miss Patten : — 

Jane Austen. 39 

Through the rough paths of life, with a patten your guard, 

May you. safely and pleasantly jog ; 
May the knot never slip, nor the ring press too hard, 

Nor the Foot find the Patten a clog. 

At the time when Jane Austen lived at Steventon, 
a work was carried on in the neighbouring cottages 
which ought to be recorded, because it has long 
ceased to exist. 

Up to the beginning of the present century, poor 
women found profitable employment in spinning flax 
or wool. This was a better occupation for them than 
straw plaiting, inasmuch as it was carried on at the 
family hearth, and did not admit of gadding and gos- 
siping about the village. The implement used was a 
long narrow machine of wood, raised on legs, fur- 
nished at one end with a large wheel, and at the other 
with a spindle on which the flax or wool was loosely 
wrapped, connected together by a loop of string. One 
hand turned the wheel, while the other formed the 
thread. The outstretched arms, the advanced foot, 
the sway of the whole figure backwards and forwards, 
produced picturesque attitudes, and displayed what- 
ever of grace or beauty the work-woman might pos- 
sess.* Some ladies were fond of spinning, but they 
worked in a quieter manner, sitting at a neat little 
machine of varnished wood, like Tunbridge ware, 
generally turned by the foot, with a basin of water at 
hand to supply the moisture required for forming the 
thread, which the cottager took by a more direct and 

* Mrs. Gaskell, in her tale of ' Sylvia's Lovers,' declares that this 
hand-spinning rivalled harp-playing in its gracefulness. 

40 A Memoir of 

natural process from her own mouth. I remember 
two such elegant little wheels in our own family. 

It may be observed that this hand-spinning is the 
most primitive of female accomplishments, and can 
be traced back to the. earliest times. Ballad poetry 
and fairy tales are full of allusions to it. The term 
' spinster * still testifies to its having been the ordinary 
employment of the English young woman. It was 
the labour assigned to the ejected nuns by the rough 
earl who said, ' Go spin, ye jades, go spin.' It was 
the employment at which Roman matrons and Gre- 
cian princesses presided amongst their handmaids. 
Heathen mythology celebrated it in the three Fates 
spinning and measuring out the thread of human 
life. Holy Scripture honours it in those ' wise-hearted 
women * who 4 did spin with their hands, and brought 
that which they had spun ' for the construction of the 
Tabernacle in the wilderness : and an old English 
proverb carries it still farther back to the time ' when 
Adam delved and Eve span/ But, at last, this time- 
honoured domestic manufacture is quite extinct 
amongst us — crushed by the power of steam, over- 
borne by a countless host of spinning jennies, and I 
can only just remember some of its last struggles for 
existence in the Steventon cottages. 

Jane Austen. 41 


Early Compositions — Friends at Ashe — A very old Letter — Lines on the 
Death of Mrs, Lefroy — Observations on Jane Austen's I^etter-ivriting 
— Letters. 

I KNOW little of Jane Austen's childhood. Her 
mother followed a custom, not unusual in those days, 
though it seems strange to us, of putting out her 
babies to be nursed in a cottage in the village. The 
infant was daily visited by one or both of its parents, 
and frequently brought to them at the parsonage, but 
the cottage was its home, and must have remained so 
till it was old enough to run about and talk ; for I 
know that one of them, in after life, used to speak of 
his foster mother as ' Movie/ the name by which he 
had called her in his infancy. It may be that the 
contrast between the parsonage house and the best 
class of cottages was not quite so extreme then as it 
would be now, that the one was somewhat less luxuri- 
ous, and the other less squalid. It would certainly 
seem from the results that it was a wholesome and 
invigorating system, for the children were all strong 
and healthy. Jane was probably treated like the rest 
in this respect. In childhood every available oppor- 
tunity of instruction was made use of. According to 
the ideas of the time, she was well educated, though 

42 A Memoir of 

not highly accomplished, and she certainly enjoyed 
that important element of mental training, associating 
at home with persons of cultivated intellect. It can- 
not be doubted that her early years were bright and 
happy, living, as she did, with indulgent parents, in a 
cheerful home, not without agreeable variety of society. 
To these sources of enjoyment must be added the first 
stirrings of talent within her, and the absorbing in- 
terest of original composition. It is impossible to say 
at how early an age she began to write. There are 
copy books extant containing tales some of which 
must have been composed while she was a young girl, 
as they had amounted to a considerable number by 
the time she was sixteen. Her earliest stories are of 
a slight and flimsy texture, and are generally intended 
to be nonsensical, but the nonsense has much spirit 
in it. They are usually preceded by a dedication of 
mock solemnity to some one of her family. It would 
seem that the grandiloquent dedications prevalent in 
those days had not escaped her youthful penetration. 
Perhaps the most characteristic feature in these early 
productions is that, however puerile the matter, they 
are always composed in pure simple English, quite 
free from the over-ornamented style which might be 
expected from so young a writer. One of her juvenile 
effusions is given, as a specimen of the kind of tran- 
sitory amusement which Jane was continually sup- 
plying to the family party. 

Jane Austen. 43 




To the Rev. George Austen. 

Sir, — I humbly solicit your patronage to the following 
Comedy, which, though an unfinished one, is, I flatter myself, 
as complete a Mystery as any of its kind. 

I am, Sir, your most humble Servant, 

The Author. 




Col. Elliott. 
Old Humbug. 
Young Humbug. 
Sir Edward Spangle 



Fanny Elliott. 
Mrs. Humbug 



Scene I. — A Garden. 
Enter Corydon. 
Corydon. But hush : I am interrupted. [Exit Corydon. 

Enter Old Humbug and his Son, talking. 
Old Hum. It is for that reason that I wish you to follow 
my advice. Are you convinced of its propriety ? 

44 A Memoir of 

Young Hum. I am, sir, and will certainly act in the 
manner you have pointed out to me. 

Old Hum. Then let us return to the house. [Exeunt. 

Scene II. — A parlour in Humbug's house. Mrs. Humbug 
and Fanny discovered at work. 

Mrs. Hum. You understand me, my love ? 
Fanny. Perfectly, ma'am : pray continue your narration. 
Mrs. Hum. Alas ! it is nearly concluded ; for I have 
nothing more to say on the subject. 
Fan?iy. Ah ! here is Daphne. 

E?iter Daphne. 

Daphne. My dear Mrs. Humbug, how d'ye do ? Oh ! 
Fanny, it is all over. 

Fanny. Is it indeed ! 

Mrs. Hum. I'm very sorry to hear it. 

Fanny. Then 'twas to no purpose that I 

Daphne. None upon earth. 

Mrs. Hum. And what is to become of ? 

Daphne. Oh ! 'tis all settled. ( Whispers Mrs. Humbug.) 

Fanny. And how is it determined ? 

Daphne. I'll tell you. ( Whispers Fanny.) 

Mrs. Hum. And is he to ? 

Daphne. I'll tell you all I know of the matter. ( Whispers 
Mrs. Humbug and Fanny.) 

Fanny. Well, now I know everything about it, I'll go away. 

Mrs. Hum.) r 

^ x 7 - And so mil I. [Exeunt. 

Daphne. L 

Scene III. — The curtain rises, and discovers Sir Edward 
Spangle reclined in an elegant attitude on a sofa fast asleep. 

Enter Col. Elliott. 
Col. E. My daughter is not here, I see. There lies Sir 

Jane A us ten. 45 

Edward. Shall I tell him the secret ? No, he'll certainly 
blab it. But he's asleep, and won't hear me ; — so I'll e'en 
venture. {Goes tip to Sir Edward, whispers him, and exit.) 


Her own mature opinion of the desirableness of 
such an early habit of composition is given in the 
following words of a niece : — 

' As I grew older, my aunt would talk to me more 
seriously of my reading and my amusements. I had 
taken early to writing verses and stories, and I am 
sorry to think how I troubled her with reading them. 
She was very kind about it, and always had some 
praise to bestow, but at last she warned me against 
spending too much time upon them. She said — how 
well I recollect it ! — that she knew writing stories was 
a great amusement, and she thought a harmless one, 
though many people, she was aware, thought other- 
wise ; but that at my age it would be bad for me to 
be much taken up with my own compositions. Later 
still — it was after she had gone to Winchester — she 
sent me a message to this effect, that if I would take 
her advice I should cease writing till I was sixteen ; that 
she had herself often wished she had read more, and 
written less in the corresponding years of her own 
life/ As this niece was only twelve years old at the 
time of her aunt's death, these words seem to imply 
that the juvenile tales to which I have referred had, 
some of them at least, been written in her childhood. 

46 A Memoir of 

But between these childish effusions, and the com- 
position of her living works, there intervened another 
stage of her progress, during which she produced 
some stories, not without merit, but which she never 
considered worthy of publication. During this pre- 
paratory period her mind seems to have been working 
in a very different direction from that into which it 
ultimately settled. Instead of presenting faithful 
copies of nature, these tales were generally bur- 
lesques, ridiculing the improbable events and ex- 
aggerated sentiments which she had met with in 
sundry silly romances. Something of this fancy is 
to be found in ' Northanger Abbey/ but she soon left 
it far behind in her subsequent course. It would 
seem as if she were first taking note of all the faults 
to be avoided, and curiously considering how she 
ought not to write before she attempted to put forth 
her strength in the right direction. The family have, 
rightly, I think, declined to let these early works be 
published. Mr. Shortreed observed very pithily of 
Walter Scott's early rambles on the borders, ' He was 
makin' himsell a' the time ; but he didna ken, may be, 
what he was about till years had passed. At first he 
thought of little, I dare say, but the queerness and 
the fun. 5 And so, in a humbler way, Jane Austen 
was 'makin' hersell/ little thinking of future fame, 
but caring only for ' the queerness and the fun ; ' and 
it would be as unfair to expose this preliminary pro- 
cess to the world, as it would be to display all that 
goes on behind the curtain of the theatre before it is 
drawn up. 

Jane Austen. 47 

It was, however, at Steventon that the real founda- 
tions of her fame were laid. There some of her most 
successful writing was composed at such an early age 
as to make it surprising that so young a woman could 
have acquired the insight into character, and the nice 
observation of manners which they display. 'Pride 
and Prejudice/ which some consider the most brilliant 
of her novels, was the first finished, if not the first 
begun. She began it in October 1796, before she was 
twenty-one years old, and completed it in about ten 
months, in August 1797. The title then intended for 
it was ' First Impressions.' l Sense and Sensibility ' 
was begun, in its present form, immediately after the 
completion of the former, in November 1797 ; but 
something similar in story and character had been 
written earlier under the title of ' Elinor and Mari- 
anne ; ' and if, as is probable, a good deal of this 
earlier production was retained, it must form the 
earliest specimen of her writing that has been given 
to the world. ' Northanger Abbey/ though not pre- 
pared for the press till 1803, was certainly first com- 
posed in 1798. 

Amongst the most valuable neighbours of the 
Austens were Mr. and Mrs. Lefroy and their family. 
He was rector of the adjoining parish of Ashe ; she 
was sister to Sir Egerton Brydges, to whom we are 
indebted for the earliest notice of Jane Austen that 
exists. In his autobiography, speaking of his visits 
at Ashe, he writes thus : ' The nearest neighbours of 
the Lefroys were the Austens of Steventon. I re- 
member Jane Austen, the novelist, as a little child. 

48 A Memoir of 

She was very intimate with Mrs. Lefroy, and much 
encouraged by her. Her mother was a Miss Leigh, 
whose paternal grandmother was sister to the first 
Duke of Chandos. Mr. Austen was of a Kentish 
family, of which several branches have been settled in 
the Weald of Kent, and some are still remaining 
there. When I knew Jane Austen, I never suspected 
that she was an authoress ; but my eyes told me that 
she was fair and handsome, slight and elegant, but 
with cheeks a little too full/ One may wish that 
Sir Egerton had dwelt rather longer on the subject 
of these memoirs, instead of being drawn away by his 
extreme love for genealogies to her great-grand- 
mother and ancestors. That great-grandmother how- 
ever lives in the family records as Mary Brydges, 
a daughter of Lord Chandos, married in Westminster 
Abbey to Theophilus Leigh of Addlestrop in 1698. 
When a girl she had received a curious letter of 
advice and reproof, written by her mother from Con- 
stantinople. Mary, or ' Poll,' was remaining in Eng- 
land with her grandmother, Lady Bernard, who seems 
to have been wealthy and inclined to be too indul- 
gent to her granddaughter. This letter is given. 
Any such authentic document, two hundred years 
old, dealing with domestic details, must possess some 
interest This is remarkable, not only as a specimen 
of the homely language in which ladies of rank then 
expressed themselves, but from the sound sense 
which it contains. Forms of expression vary, but 
good sense and right principles are the same in the 
nineteenth that they were in the seventeenth century. 

Jane Auste?z. 49 

* My dea'res Poll, 
' Y r letters by Cousin Robbert Serle arrived here 
not before the 27 th of Aprill, yett were they hartily 
wellcome to us, bringing y e joyful news which a great 
while we had longed for of my most dear Mother & 
all other relations & friends good health which I 
beseech God continue to you all, & as I observe in 
y rs to y r Sister Betty y e extraordinary kindness of 
(as I may truly say) the best Moth r & G nd Moth r in 
the world in pinching herself to make you fine, so I 
cannot but admire her great good Housewifry in 
affording you so very plentifull an allowance, & yett 
to increase her Stock at the rate I find she hath 
done ; & think I can never sufficiently mind you how 
very much it is y r duty on all occasions to pay her 
y r gratitude in all humble submission & obedience to 
all her commands soe long as you live. I must tell 
you 'tis to her bounty & care in y e greatest measure 
you are like to owe y r well living in this world, & as 
you cannot but be very sensible you are an extra- 
ordinary charge to her so it behoves you to take par- 
ticular heed th* in y e whole course of y r life, you 
render her a proportionable comfort, especially since 
'tis y 6 best way you can ever hope to make her such 
amends as God requires of y r hands, but Poll ! it 
grieves me a little & y* I am forced to take notice of 
& reprove you for some vaine expressions in y r lett rs 
to y r Sister — you say concerning y r allowance " you 
aime to bring y r bread & cheese even " in this I do 
not discommend you, for a foule shame indeed it 
would be should you out run the Constable having 


50 A Meinoir of 

soe liberall a provision made you for y r ma i nance 
— but y e reason you give for y r resolution \ c \ t at 
all approve for you say " to spend more yo an't " 
thats because you have it not to spend, oth^ ise it 
seems you would. So y 1 'tis y r Grandmoth 1 "" scre- 
tion & not yours th* keeps you from extrav incy, 
which plainly appears in y e close of y r senteno say- 
ing y* you think it simple covetousness to save ut of 
y rs but 'tis my opinion if you lay all on y r ba k 'tis 
ten tymes a greater sin & shame th n to save ^ome 
what out of soe large an allowance in y r purse to 
help you at a dead lift. Child, we all know our 
beginning, but who knows his end ? Y e best use th* 
can be made of fair weath r is to provide against foule 
& 'tis great discretion & of noe small commenda- 
tions for a young woman betymes to shew herself 
housewifly & frugal. Y r Mother neither Maide nor 
wife ever yett bestowed forty pounds a yeare on 
herself & yett if you never fall und r a worse reputa- 
tion in y e world th n she (I thank God for it) hath 
hitherto done, you need not repine at it, & you can- 
not be ignorant of y e difference th* was between my 
fortune & what you are to expect. You ought like- 
wise to consider th* you have seven brothers & sisters 
& you are all one man's children & therefore it is 
very unreasonable that one should expect to be pre- 
ferred in finery soe much above all y e rest for 'tis 
impossible you should soe much mistake y r fTather's 
condition as to fancy he is able to allow every one of 
you forty pounds a yeare a piece, for such an allow- 
ance with the charge of their diett over and above 

Jane A listen. 5 1 

will amount to at least five hundred pounds a yeare, 
a sum y r poor ffather can ill spare, besides doe but 
bethink y r self what a ridiculous sight it will be when 
y r grandmoth r & you come to us to have noe less th n 
seven waiting gentlewomen in one house, for what 
reason can you give why every one of y r Sist rs should 
not have every one of y m a Maide as well as you, & 
though you may spare to pay y r maide's wages out 
of y r allowance yett you take no care of y e unne- 
cessary charge you put y r ffath r to in y r increase of 
his family, whereas if it were not a piece of pride to 
have y e name of keeping y r maide she y* waits on y r 
good Grandmother might easily doe as formerly 
you know she hath done, all y e business you have for 
a maide unless as you grow old r you grow a veryer 
Foole which God forbid ! 

'Poll, you live in a place where you see great 
plenty & splendour but let not y e allurements of 
earthly pleasures tempt you to forget or neglect y e 
duty of a good Christian in dressing y r bett r part 
which is y r soule, as will best please God. I am not 
against y r going decent & neate as becomes y r 
ffathers daughter but to clothe y r self rich & be run- 
ning into every gaudy fashion can never become y r 
circumstances & instead of doing you creditt & 
getting you a good prefer 11 * it is y e readiest way you 
can take to fright all sober men from ever thinking of 
matching th m selves with women that live above thy r 
fortune, & if this be a wise way of spending money 
judge you ! & besides, doe but reflect what an od 

52 A Memoir of 

sight it will be to a stranger that comes to our house 
to see y r Grandmoth 1 " y r Moth r & all y r Sisters in a 
plane dress & you only trick d up like a bartlemew- 
babby — you know what sort of people those are th* 
can't faire well but they must cry rost meate now 
what effect could you imagine y r writing in such a 
high straine to y r Sisters could have but eithe r to pro- 
voke th m to envy you or murmur against us. I must 
tell you neith r of y r Sisters have ever had twenty 
pounds a yeare allowance from us yett, & yett they r 
dress hath not disparaged neith r th m nor us & without 
incurring y e censure of simple covetousness they will 
have some what to shew out of their saving that will 
doe th ra creditt & I expect y t you th* are theyr elder 
Sister sh d rather sett th m examples of y e like nature 
th n tempt th m from treading in y e steps of their good 
Grandmoth r & poor Moth r . This is not half what 
might be saide on this occasion but believing thee to 
be a very good natured dutyfull child I sh d have 
thought it a great deal too much but y* having in my 
coming hither past through many most desperate 
dangers I cannot forbear thinking & preparing my- 
self for all events, & therefore not knowing how it 
may please God to dispose of us I conclude it my 
duty to God & thee my d r child to lay this matter 
as home to thee as I could, assuring you my daily 
prayers are not nor shall not be wanting that God 
may give you grace always to remember to make 
a right use of this truly affectionate counsell of 
y r poor Moth r . & though I speak very plaine down- 
right english to you yett I would not have you doubt 

Jane Austen. 53 

but that I love you as hartily as any child I have & 
if you serve God and take good courses I promise 
you my kindness to you shall be according to y r 
own hart's desire, for you may be certain I can aime 
at nothing in what I have now writ but y r real good 
which to promote shall be y e study & care day & night 
' Of my dear Poll 
' thy truly affectionate Moth r . 

' Eliza Chandos. 

' Pera of Galata, May y e 6th 1686. 

' P.S. — Thy ffath r & I send thee our blessing, & 
all thy broth rs & sist rs they r service. Our harty & 
affectionate service to my broth r & sist r Childe & all 
my dear cozens. When you see my Lady Worster 
& cozen Howlands pray present th m my most humble 

This letter shows that the wealth acquired by trade 
was already manifesting itself in contrast with the 
straitened circumstances of some of the nobility. 
Mary Brydges's ' poor ffather/ in whose household 
economy was necessary, was the King of England's 
ambassador at Constantinople ; the grandmother, 
who lived in ' great plenty and splendour/ was the 
widow of a Turkey merchant. But then, as now, 
it would seem, rank had the power of attracting and 
absorbing wealth. 

At Ashe also Jane became acquainted with a 
member of the Lefroy family, who was still living 
when I began these memoirs, a few months ago ; the 
Right Hon. Thomas Lefroy, late Chief Justice of 

54 A Memoir of 

Ireland. One must look back more than seventy 
years to reach the time when these two bright young 
persons were, for a short time, intimately acquainted 
with each other, and then separated on their several 
courses, never to meet again ; both destined to attain 
some distinction in their different ways, one to sur- 
vive the other for more than half a century, yet in his 
extreme old age to remember and speak, as he some- 
times did, of his former companion, as one to be 
much admired, and not easily forgotten by those who 
had ever known her. 

Mrs. Lefroy herself was a remarkable person. Her 
rare endowments of goodness, talents, graceful person,, 
and engaging manners, were sufficient to secure her a 
prominent place in any society into which she was 
thrown; while her enthusiastic eagerness of disposi- 
tion rendered her especially attractive to a clever and 
lively girl. She was killed by a fall from her horse 
on Jane's birthday, Dec. 16, 1804. The following 
lines to her memory were written by Jane four years 
afterwards, when she was thirty-three years old. 
They are given, not for their merits as poetry, but ta 
show how deep and lasting was the impression made 
by the elder friend on the mind of the younger : — 

To the Memory of Mrs. Lefroy. 

The day returns again, my natal day \ 
What mix'd emotions in my mind arise I 

Beloved Friend ; four years have passed away 
Since thou wert snatched for ever from our eyes. 

Jane Attsten. 55 

The day commemorative of my birth, 

Bestowing life, and light, and hope to me, 

Brings back the hour which was thy last on earth, 
O ! bitter pang of torturing memory ! 

Angelic woman ! past my power to praise 

In language meet thy talents, temper, mind, 
Thy solid worth, thy captivating grace, 

Thou friend and ornament of human kind. 

But come, fond Fancy, thou indulgent power ; 

Hope is desponding, chill, severe, to thee : 
Bless thou this little portion of an hour; 

Let me behold her as she used to be. 

I see her here with all her smiles benign, 

Her looks of eager love, her accents sweet, 
That voice and countenance almost divine, 

Expression, harmony, alike complete. 


Listen ! It is not sound alone, 'tis sense, 
'Tis genius, taste, and tenderness of soul : 

'Tis genuine warmth of heart without pretence, 
And purity of mind that crowns the whole. 

She speaks ! 'Tis eloquence, that grace of tongue, 

So rare, so lovely, never misapplied 
By her, to palliate vice, or deck a wrong : 

She speaks and argues but on virtue's side. 

56 A Memoir of 

Hers is the energy of soul sincere ; 

Her Christian spirit, ignorant to feign, 
Seeks but to comfort, heal, enlighten, cheer, 

Confer a pleasure or prevent a pain. 

Can aught enhance such goodness ? yes, to me 

Her partial favour from my earliest years 
Consummates all : ah ! give me but to see 

Her smile of love ! The vision disappears. 

Tis past and gone. We meet no more below. 

Short is the cheat of Fancy o'er the tomb. 
Oh ! might I hope to equal bliss to go, 

To meet thee, angel, in thy future home. 

Fain would I feel an union with thy fate : 
Fain would I seek to draw an omen fair 

From this connection in our earthly date. 

Indulge the harmless weakness. Reason, spare. 

The loss of their first home is generally a great 
grief to young persons of strong feeling and lively 
imagination; and Jane was exceedingly unhappy 
when she was told that her father, now seventy years 
of age, had determined to resign his duties to his 
eldest son, who was to be his successor in the Rectory 
of Steventon, and to remove with his wife and daugh- 
ters to Bath. Jane had been absent from home when 
this resolution was taken ; and, as her father was 

Jane Austen. 57 

always rapid both in forming his resolutions and in 
acting on them, she had little time to reconcile herself 
to the change. 

A wish has sometimes been expressed that some 
of Jane Austen's letters should be published. Some 
entire letters, and many extracts, will be given in this 
memoir ; but the reader must be warned not to expect 
too much from them. With regard to accuracy of 
language indeed every word of them might be printed 
without correction. The style is always clear, and 
generally animated, while a vein of humour continu- 
ally gleams through the whole ; but the materials 
may be thought inferior to the execution, for they 
treat only of the details of domestic life. There is in 
them no notice of politics or public events ; scarcely 
any discussions on literature, or other subjects of 
general interest. They may be said to resemble the 
nest which some little bird builds of the materials 
nearest at hand, of the twigs and mosses supplied by 
the tree in which it is placed ; curiously constructed 
out of the simplest matters. 

Her letters have very seldom the date of the year, 
or the signature of her christian name at full length ; 
but it has been easy to ascertain their dates, either 
from the post-mark, or from their contents. 

The two following letters are the earliest that I have 
seen. They were both written in November 1800; 
before the family removed from Steventon. Some of 
the same circumstances are referred to in both. 

58 A Memoir of 

The first is to her sister Cassandra, who was then 
staying with their brother Edward at Godmersham 
Park, Kent : — 

* Steventon, Saturday evening, Nov. 8th. 

My dear Cassandra, 
' I thank you for so speedy a return to my two last, 
and particularly thank you for your anecdote of 
Charlotte Graham and her cousin, Harriet Bailey, 
which has very much amused both my mother and 
myself. If you can learn anything farther of that 
interesting affair, I hope you will mention it. I have 
two messages ; let me get rid of them, and then my 
paper will be my own. Mary fully intended writing 
to you by Mr. Chute's frank, and only happened en- 
tirely to forget it, but will write soon ; and my father 
wishes Edward to send him a memorandum of the 
price of the hops. The tables are come, and give 
general contentment. I had not expected that they 
would so perfectly suit the fancy of us all three, or 
that we should so well agree in the disposition of 
them ; but nothing except their own surface can have 
been smoother. The two ends put together form one 
constant table for everything, and the centre piece 
stands exceedingly well under the glass, and holds a 
great deal most commodiously, without looking awk- 
wardly. They are both covered with green baize, and 
send their best love. The Pembroke has got its des- 
tination by the sideboard, and my mother has great 
delight in keeping her money and papers locked up. 
The little table which used to stand there has most 
conveniently taken itself off into the best bedroom ; 

Jane Austen. 59 

and we are now in want only of the chiffonniere, 
is neither finished nor come. So much for that sub- 
ject ; I now come to another, of a very different 
nature, as other subjects are very apt to be. Earle 
Harwood has been again giving uneasiness to his 
family and talk to the neighbourhood ; in the present 
instance, however, he is only unfortunate, and not in 

'About ten days ago, in cocking a pistol in the 
guard-room at Marcau, he accidentally shot himself 
through the thigh. Two young Scotch surgeons in 
the island were polite enough to propose taking off 
the thigh at once, but to that he would not consent ; 
and accordingly in his wounded state was put on 
board a cutter and conveyed to Haslar Hospital, at 
Gosport, where the bullet was extracted, and where 
he now is, I hope, in a fair way of doing well. The 
surgeon of the hospital wrote to the family on the 
occasion, and John Harwood went down to him im- 
mediately, attended by James,* whose object in going 
was to be the means of bringing back the earliest 
intelligence to Mr. and Mrs. Harwood, whose anxious 
sufferings, particularly those of the latter, have of 
course been dreadful. They went down on Tuesday, 
and James came back the next day, bringing such 
favourable accounts as greatly to lessen the distress of 
the family at Deane, though it will probably be a long 
while before Mrs. Harwood can be quite at ease. One 
most material comfort, however, they have ; the assur- 
ance of its being really an accidental wound, which is 
not only positively declared by Earle himself, but is 

* James, the writer's eldest brother. 

6o A Memoir of 

likewise testified by the particular direction of the 
bullet. Such a wound could not have been received 
in a duel. At present he is going on very well, but 
the surgeon will not declare him to be in no danger.* 
Mr. Heathcote met with a genteel little accident the 
other day in hunting. He got off to lead his horse 
over a hedge, or a house, or something, and his horse 
in his haste trod upon his leg, or rather ancle, I 
believe, and it is net certain whether the small bone 
is not broke. Martha has accepted Mary's invitation 
for Lord Portsmouth's ball. He has not yet sent out 
his own invitations, but that does not signify; Martha 
comes, and a ball there is to be. I think it will be 
too early in her mother's absence for me to return 
with her. 

' Sunday Evening.— -We have had a dreadful storm 
of wind in the fore part of this day, which has done a 
great deal of mischief among our trees. I was sitting 
alone in the dining-room when an odd kind of crash 
startled me — in a moment afterwards it was repeated. 
I then went to the window, which I reached just in 
time to see the last of our two highly valued elms 
descend into the Sweep ! ! ! ! ! The other, which had 
fallen, I suppose, in the first crash, and which was the 
nearest to the pond, taking a more easterly direction, 
sunk among our screen of chestnuts and firs, knocking 
down one spruce-fir, beating off the head of another, 
and stripping the two corner chestnuts of several 
branches in its fall. This is not all. One large 
elm out of the two on the left-hand side as you. 

* The limb was saved. 

Jane Austen. 61 

enter what I call the elm walk, was likewise blown 
down ; the maple bearing the weathercock was broke 
in two, and what I regret more than all the rest is, 
that all the three elms which grew in Hall's meadow, 
and gave such ornament to it, are gone ; two were 
blown down, and the other so much injured that it 
cannot stand. I am happy to add, however, that no 
greater evil than the loss of trees has been the conse- 
quence of the storm in this place, or in our imme- 
diate neighbourhood. We grieve, therefore, in some 

' I am yours ever, 'J. A.' 

The next letter, written four days later than the 
former, was addressed to Miss Lloyd, an intimate 
friend, whose sister (my mother) was married to 
Jane's eldest brother : — 

' Steventon, Wednesday evening, Nov. 1 2th. 

' My dear Martha, 
'I did not receive your note yesterday till after 
Charlotte had left Deane, or I would have sent my 
answer by her, instead of being the means, as I now 
must be, of lessening the elegance of your new dress 
for the Hurstbourne ball by the value of ^d. You 
are very good in wishing to see me at Ibthorp so 
soon, and I am equally good in wishing to come to 
you. I believe our merit in that respect is much 
upon a par, our self-denial mutually strong. Having 
paid this tribute of praise to the virtue of both, I 
shall here have done with panegyric, and proceed to 

62 A Memoir of 

plain matter of fact. In about a fortnight's time I hope 
to be with you. I have two reasons for not being 
able to come before. I wish so to arrange my visit 
as to spend some days with you after your mother's 
return. In the 1st place, that I may have the plea- 
sure of seeing her, and in the 2nd, that I may have a 
better chance of bringing you back with me. Your 
promise in my favour was not quite absolute, but if 
your will is not perverse, you and I will do all in our 
power to overcome your scruples of conscience. I 
hope we shall meet next week to talk all this over, 
till we have tired ourselves with the very idea of my 
visit before my visit begins. Our invitations for the 
19th are arrived, and very curiously are they worded.* 
Mary mentioned to you yesterday poor Earle's unfor- 
tunate accident, I dare say. He does not seem to be 
going on very well. The two or three last posts have 
brought less and less favourable accounts of him. 
John Harwood has gone to Gosport again to-day. 
We have two families of friends now who are in a 
most anxious state ; for though by a note from Cathe- 
rine this morning there seems now to be a revival of 
hope at Manydown, its continuance may be too rea- 
sonably doubted. Mr. Heathcote,f however, who has 

* The invitation, the ball dress, and some other things in this and 
the preceding letter refer to a ball annually given at Hurstbourne Park, 
on the anniversary of the Earl of Portsmouth's marriage with his first 
wife. He was the Lord Portsmouth whose eccentricities afterwards be- 
came notorious, and the invitations, as well as other arrangements about 
these balls, were of a peculiar character. 

+ The father of Sir William Heathcote, of Hursley, who was married 
to a daughter of Mr. Bigg Wither, of Manydown, and lived in the 

Jane A listen. 63 

broken the small bone of his leg, is so good as to be 
going on very well. It would be really too much to 
have three people to care for. 

' You distress me cruelly by your request about 
books. I cannot think of any to bring with me, nor 
have I any idea of our wanting them. I come to you 
to be talked to, not to read or hear reading ; I can do 
that at home ; and indeed I am now laying in a stock 
of intelligence to pour out on you as my share of the 
conversation. I am reading Henry's History of Eng- 
land, which I will repeat to you in any manner you 
may prefer, either in a loose, desultory, unconnected 
stream, or dividing my recital, as the historian divides 
it himself, into seven parts : — The Civil and Military: 
Religion : Constitution : Learning and Learned Men : 
Arts and Sciences : Commerce, Coins, and Shipping : 
and Manners. So that for every evening in the week 
there will be a different subject. The Friday's lot — 
Commerce, Coins, and Shipping — you will find the 
least entertaining ; but the next evening's portion will 
make amends. With such a provision on my part, if 
you will do yours by repeating the French Grammar, 
and Mrs. Stent* will now and then ejaculate some 
wonder about the cocks and hens, what can we want ? 
Farewell for a short time. We all unite in best love, 
and I am your very affectionate 

'J. A.' 

The two next letters must have been written early 
in 1 801, after the removal from Steventon had been 

* A very dull old lady, then residing with Mrs. Lloyd. 

64 A Memoir of 

decided on, but before it had taken place. They 
refer to the two brothers who were at sea, and give 
some idea of a kind of anxieties and uncertainties to 
which sisters are seldom subject in these days of 
peace, steamers, and electric telegraphs. At that time 
ships were often windbound or becalmed, or driven 
wide of their destination ; and sometimes they had 
orders to alter their course for some secret service ; 
not to mention the chance of conflict with a vessel of 
superior power — no improbable occurrence before the 
battle of Trafalgar. Information about relatives on 
board men-of-war was scarce and scanty, and often 
picked up by hearsay or chance means ; and every 
scrap of intelligence was proportionably valuable : — 

1 My dear Cassandra, 
' I should not have thought it necessary to write to 
you so soon, but for the arrival of a letter from Charles 
to myself. It was written last Saturday from off the 
Start, and conveyed to Popham Lane by Captain 
Boyle, on his way to Midgham. He came from Lisbon 
in the " Endymion." I will copy Charles's account of 
his conjectures about Frank : " He has not seen my 
brother lately, nor does he expect to find him arrived, 
as he met Captain Inglis at Rhodes, going up to take 
command of the ' Petrel,' as he was coming down ; 
but supposes he will arrive in less than a fortnight 
from this time, in some ship which is expected to 
reach England about that time with dispatches from 
Sir Ralph Abercrombie." The event must show what 
sort of a conjuror Captain Boyle is. The " Endy- 

Jane Austen. 65 

mion" has not been plagued with any more prizes. 
Charles spent three pleasant days in Lisbon. 

' They were very well satisfied with their royal 
passenger,* whom they found jolly and affable, who 
talks of Lady Augusta as his wife, and seems much 
attached to her. 

'When this letter was written, the "Endymion" 
was becalmed, but Charles hoped to reach Ports- 
mouth by Monday or Tuesday. He received my 
letter, communicating our plans, before he left Eng- 
land ; was much surprised, of course, but is quite 
reconciled to them, and means to come to Steventon 
once more while Steventon is ours.' 

From a letter written later in the same year: — 
' Charles has received 30/. for his share of the pri- 
vateer, and expects 10/. more ; but of what avail is it 
to take prizes if he lays out the produce in presents 
to his sisters ? He has been buying gold chains and 
topaze crosses for us. He must be well scolded. The 
" Endymion" has already received orders for taking 
troops to Egypt, which I should not like at all if I 
did not trust to Charles being removed from her 
somehow or other before she sails. He knows nothing 
of his own destination, he says, but desires me to 
write directly, as the "Endymion" will probably sail 
in three or four days. He will receive my yesterday's 
letter, and I shall write again by this post to thank 
and reproach him. We shall be unbearably fine.' 

* The Duke of Sussex, son of George III., married, without royal 
consent, to the Lady Augusta Murray. 


66 A Memoir of 


Removal from Steventon — Residences at Bath and at Southampton- 
Settling at Ckawton. 

THE family removed to Bath in the spring of 1801, 
where they resided first at No. 4 Sydney Terrace, 
and afterwards in Green Park Buildings. I do not 
know whether they were at all attracted to Bath by 
the circumstance that Mrs. Austen's only brother, 
Mr. Leigh Perrot, spent part of every year there. The 
name of Perrot, together with a small estate at North- 
leigh in Oxfordshire, had been bequeathed to him by 
a great uncle. I must devote a few sentences to this 
very old and now extinct branch of the Perrot family ; 
for one of the last survivors, Jane Perrot, married to a 
Walker, was Jane Austen's great grandmother, from 
whom she derived her Christian name. The Perrots 
were settled in Pembrokeshire at least as early as the 
thirteenth century. They were probably some of the 
settlers whom the policy of our Plantagenet kings 
placed in that county, which thence acquired the 
name of ' England beyond Wales/ for the double 
purpose of keeping open a communication with 
Ireland from Milford Haven, and of overawing the 
Welsh. One of the family seems to have carried out 

Jane A usten, 6j 

this latter purpose very vigorously ; for it is recorded 
of him that he slew twenty-six men of Kemaes, a dis- 
trict of Wales, and one wolf. The manner in which 
the two kinds of game are classed together, and the 
disproportion of numbers, are remarkable ; but pro- 
bably at that time the wolves had been so closely 
killed down, that lupicide was become a more rare 
and distinguished exploit than homicide. The last of 
this family died about 1778, and their property was 
divided between Leighs and Musgraves, the larger 
portion going to the latter. Mr. Leigh Perrot pulled 
down the mansion, and sold the estate to the Duke of 
Marlborough, and the name of these Perrots is now 
to be found only on some monuments in the church 
of Northleigh. 

Mr. Leigh Perrot was also one of several cousins to 
whom a life interest in the Stoneleigh property in 
Warwickshire was left, after the extinction of the 
earlier Leigh peerage, but he compromised his claim 
to the succession in his lifetime. He married a niece 
of Sir Montague Cholmeley of Lincolnshire. He was 
a man of considerable natural power, with much of 
the wit of his uncle, the Master of Balliol, and wrote 
clever epigrams and riddles, some of which, though 
without his name, found their way into print ; but he 
lived a very retired life, dividing his time between 
Bath and his place in Berkshire called Scarlets. 
Jane's letters from Bath make frequent mention of 
this uncle and aunt. 

The unfinished story, now published under the title 
of 'The Watsons,' must have been written during 

68 A Memoir of 

the author's residence in Bath. In the autumn of 
1804 she spent some weeks at Lyme, and became 
acquainted with the Cobb, which she afterwards 
made memorable for the fall of Louisa Musgrove. 
In February 1805, her father died at Bath, and 
was buried at Walcot Church. The widow and 
daughters went into lodgings for a few months, and 
then removed to Southampton. The only records 
that I can find about her during those four years are 
the three following letters to her sister; one from 
Lyme, the others from Bath. They shew that she 
went a good deal into society, in a quiet way, chiefly 
with ladies ; and that her eyes were always open to 
minute traits of character in those with whom she 
associated : — 

Extract from a letter from Jane Auste7i to her Sister. 

* Lyme, Friday, Sept. 14 (1804). 

4 My dear Cassandra, — I take the first sheet of 
fine striped paper to thank you for your letter from 
Weymouth, and express my hopes of your being at 
Ibthorp before this time. I expect to hear that you 
reached it yesterday evening, being able to get as far 
as Blandford on Wednesday. Your account of Wey- 
mouth contains nothing which strikes me so forcibly 
as there being no ice in the town. For every other 
vexation I was in some measure prepared, and par- 
ticularly for your disappointment in not seeing the 
Royal Family go on board on Tuesday, having 
already heard from Mr. Crawford that he had seen 
you in the very act of being too late. But for there 

Jane A listen. 69 

being no ice, what could prepare me ! You found 
my letter at Andover, I hope, yesterday, and have 
now for many hours been satisfied that your kind 
anxiety on my behalf was as much thrown away as 
kind anxiety usually is. I continue quite well; in 
proof of which I have bathed again this morning. 
It was absolutely necessary that I should have the 
little fever and indisposition which I had : it has been 
all the fashion this week in Lyme. We are quite 
settled in our lodgings by this time, as you may 
suppose, and everything goes on in the usual order. 
The servants behave very well, and make no diffi- 
culties, though nothing certainly can exceed the 
inconvenience of the offices, except the general 
dirtiness of the house and furniture, and all its in- 
habitants. I endeavour, as far as I can, to supply 
your place, and be useful, and keep things in order. 
I detect dirt in the water decanters, as fast as I can, 
and keep everything as it was under your adminis- 
tration. . . . The ball last night was pleasant, but 
not full for Thursday. My father staid contentedly 
till half-past nine (we went a little after eight), and 
then walked home with James and a lanthorn, though 
I believe the lanthorn was not lit, as the moon was 
up ; but sometimes this lanthorn may be a great 
convenience to him. My mother and I staid about 
an hour later. Nobody asked me the two first 
dances ; the two next I danced with Mr. Crawford, 
and had I chosen to stay longer might have danced 
with Mr. Granville, Mrs. Granville's son, whom my 
dear friend Miss A. introduced to me, or with a new 

A Memoir of 

odd-looking man who had been eyeing me for some 
time, and at last, without any introduction, asked me 
if I meant to dance again. I think he must be Irish 
by his ease, and because I imagine him to belong to 
the hon bI B.'s, who are son, and son's wife of an Irish 
viscount, bold queer-looking people, just fit to be 
quality at Lyme. I called yesterday morning (ought 
it not in strict propriety to be termed yester-morn- 
ing ?) on Miss A. and was introduced to her father 
and mother. Like other young ladies she is con- 
siderably genteeler than her parents. Mrs. A. sat 
darning a pair of stockings the whole of my visit. 
But do not mention this at home, lest a warning 
should act as an example. We afterwards walked 
together for an hour on the Cobb ; she is very con- 
verseable in a common way ; I do not perceive wit 
or genius, but she has sense and some degree of 
taste, and her manners are very engaging. She 
seems to like people rather too easily. 

' Yours affect 1 *, 

*j. a: 

Letter from Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra at 
Ibthorp, alluding to the sudden death of Mrs. Lloyd 
at that place : — 

1 25 Gay Street (Bath), Monday, 

* April 8, 1805. 

' My dear Cassandra, — Here is a day for you. 
Did Bath or Ibthorp ever see such an 8th of April ? 
It is March and April together ; the glare of the one 
and the warmth of the other. We do nothing but 

Jane Austen. yi 

walk about. As far as your means will admit, I hope 
you profit by such weather too. I dare say you are 
already the better for change of place. We were out 
again last night Miss Irvine invited us, when I met 
her in the Crescent, to drink tea with them, but I 
rather declined it, having no idea that my mother 
would be disposed for another evening visit there so 
soon ; but when I gave her the message, I found her 
very well inclined to go ; and accordingly, on leaving 
Chapel, we walked to Lansdown. This morning we 
have been to see Miss Chamberlaine look hot on 
horseback. Seven years and four months ago we 
went to the same riding-house to see Miss Lefroy's 
performance !* What a different set are we now 
moving in ! But seven years, I suppose, are enough 
to change every pore of one's skin and every feeling 
of one's mind. We did not walk long in the Crescent 
yesterday. It was hot and not crowded enough ; so 
we went into the field, and passed close by S. T. and 
Miss S.j again. I have not yet seen her face, but 
neither her dress nor air have anything of the dash or 
stylishness which the Browns talked of; quite the 
contrary ; indeed, her dress is not even smart, and her 
appearance very quiet. Miss Irvine says she is never 
speaking a word. Poor wretch ; I am afraid she is 
en penitence. Here has been that excellent Mrs. 
Coulthart calling, while my mother was out, and I 
was believed to be so. I always respected her 5 as a 

* Here is evidence that Jane Austen was acquainted with Bath before 
it became her residence in 1801. See p. 23. 

+ A gentleman and lady lately engaged to be married. 

J2 A Memoir of 

good-hearted friendly woman. And the Browns have 
been here ; I find their affidavits on the table. The 
"Ambuscade" reached Gibraltar on the 9th of March, 
arid found all well ; so say the papers. We have had 
no letters from anybody, but we expect to hear from 
Edward to-morrow, and from you soon afterwards. 
How happy they are at Godmersham now ! I shall be 
very glad of a letter from Ibthorp, that I may know 
how you all are, but particularly yourself. This is 
nice weather for Mrs. J. Austen's going to Speen, and 
I hope she will have a pleasant visit there. I expect 
a prodigious account of the christening dinner ; per- 
haps it brought you at last into the company of Miss 
Dundas again. 

' Tuesday. — I received your letter last night, and 
wish it may be soon followed by another to say that 
all is over ; but I cannot help thinking that nature 
will struggle again, and produce a revival. Poor 
woman ! May her end be peaceful and easy as the 
exit we have witnessed ! And I dare say it w T ill. If 
there is no revival, suffering must be all over ; even the 
consciousness of existence, I suppose, was gone when 
you wrote. The nonsense I have been writing in this 
and in my last letter seems out of place at such a 
time, but I will not mind it ; it will do you no harm, 
and nobody else will be attacked by it. I am heartily 
glad that you can speak so comfortably of your own 
health and looks, though I can scarcely comprehend 
the latter being really approved. Could travelling 
fifty miles produce such an immediate change ? You 
were looking very poorly here, and everybody seemed 

Jane Austen. j$ 

sensible of it. Is there a charm in a hack post- 
chaise ? But if there were, Mrs. Craven's carriage 
might have undone it all. I am much obliged to you 
for the time and trouble you have bestowed on 
Mary's cap, and am glad it pleases her ; but it will 
prove a useless gift at present, I suppose. Will not 
she leave Ibthorp on her mother's death ? As a 
companion you are all that Martha can be supposed 
to want, and in that light, under these circumstances, 
your visit will indeed have been well timed. 

* TJmrsday. — I was not able to go on yesterday ; 
all my wit and leisure were bestowed on letters to 
Charles and Henry. To the former I wrote in conse- 
quence of my mother's having seen in the papers that 
the " Urania " was waiting at Portsmouth for the 
convoy for Halifax. This is nice, as it is only three 
weeks ago that you wrote by the "Camilla." I wrote 
to Henry because I had a letter from him in which 
he desired to hear from me very soon. His to me 
was most affectionate and kind, as well as entertain- 
ing ; there is no merit to him in that ; he cannot help 
being amusing. He offers to meet us on the sea 
coast, if the plan of which Edward gave him some 
hint takes place. Will not this be making the exe- 
cution of such a plan more desirable and delightful 
than ever ? He talks of the rambles we took together 
last summer with pleasing affection. 

' Yours ever, 

*j. a: 

A Memoir of 

From the same to the same. 

' Gay St. Sunday Evening, 

'April 21 (1805). 

'My dear Cassandra, — I am much obliged to 
you for writing to me again so soon; your letter 
yesterday was quite an unexpected pleasure. Poor 
Mrs. Stent ! it has been her lot to be always in the 
way ; but we must be merciful, for perhaps in time 
we may come to be Mrs. Stents ourselves, unequal 
to anything, and unwelcome to everybody. . . . My 
morning engagement was with the Cookes, and our 
party consisted of George and Mary, a Mr. L., Miss 
B., who had been with us at the concert, and the 
youngest Miss W. Not Julia ; we have done with 
her ; she is very ill ; but Mary. Mary W.'s turn is 
actually come to be grown up, and have a fine com- 
plexion, and wear great square muslin shawls. I have 
not expressly enumerated myself among the party, 
but there I was, and my cousin George was very 
kind, and talked sense to me every now and then, in 
the intervals of his more animated fooleries with Miss 
B., who is very young, and rather handsome, and 
whose gracious manners, ready wit, and solid remarks, 
put me somewhat in mind of my old acquaintance 
L. L. There was a monstrous deal of stupid quizzing 
and common-place nonsense talked, but scarcely any 
wit ; all that bordered on it or on sense came from 
my cousin George, whom altogether I like very well. 
Mr. B. seems nothing more than a tall young man. 
My evening engagement and walk was with Miss A., 

Jane Austen, 75 

who had called on me the day before, and gently up- 
braided me in her turn with a change of manners to 
her since she had been in Bath, or at least of late. 
Unlucky me ! that my notice should be of such con- 
sequence, and my manners so bad ! She was so well 
disposed, and so reasonable, that I soon forgave her, 
and made this engagement with her in proof of it 
She is really an agreeable girl, so I think I may like 
her; and her great want of a companion at home, 
which may well make any tolerable acquaintance im- 
portant to her, gives her another claim on my attention. 
I shall endeavour as much as possible to keep my 
intimacies in their proper place, and prevent their 
clashing. Among so many friends, it will be well if I 
do not get into a scrape ; and now here is Miss 
Blashford come. I should have gone distracted if the 
Bullers had staid. . . . When I tell you I have been 
visiting a countess this morning, you will immediately, 
with great justice, but no truth, guess it to be Lady 
Roden. No : it is Lady Leven, the mother of Lord 
Balgonie. On receiving a message from Lord and 
Lady Leven through the Mackays, declaring their 
intention of waiting on us, we thought it right to go 
to them. I hope we have not done too much, but the 
friends and admirers of Charles must be attended to. 
They seem very reasonable, good sort of people, very 
civil, and full of his praise.* We were shewn at first 
into an empty drawing-room, and presently in came 

* It seems that Charles Austen, then first lieutenant of the ' Endy- 
mion,' had had an opportunity of shewing attention and kindness to 
some of Lord Leven' s family. 

76 A Memoir of 

his lordship, not knowing who we were, to apologise 
for the servant's mistake, and to say himself what was 
untrue, that Lady Leven was not within. He is a 
tall gentlemanlike looking man, with spectacles, and 
rather deaf. After sitting with him ten minutes we 
walked away; but Lady Leven coming out of the 
dining parlour as we passed the door, we were obliged 
to attend her back to it, and pay our visit over again. 
She is a stout woman, with a very handsome face. 
By this means we had the pleasure of hearing Charles's 
praises twice over. They think themselves exces- 
sively obliged to him, and estimate him so highly as 
to wish Lord Balgonie, when he is quite recovered, to 
go out to him. There is a pretty little Lady Marianne 
of the party, to be shaken hands with, and asked if 

she remembered Mr. Austen 

' I shall write to Charles by the next packet, unless 
you tell me in the meantime of your intending to 
do it. 

' Believe me, if you chuse, 

<Y r afT te Sister.' 

Jane did not estimate too highly the ' Cousin George ' 
mentioned in the foregoing letter; who might easily 
have been superior in sense and wit to the rest of the 
party. He was the Rev. George Leigh Cooke, long 
known and respected at Oxford, where he held im- 
portant offices, and had the privilege of helping to 
form the minds of men more eminent than himself. 
As Tutor in Corpus Christi College, he became in- 
structor to some of the most distinguished under- 

Jane A listen, yj 

graduates of that time : amongst others to Dr. Arnold, 
the Rev. John Keble, and Sir John Coleridge. The 
latter has mentioned him in terms of affectionate 
regard, both in his Memoir of Keble, and in a letter 
which appears in Dean Stanley's 'Life of Arnold/ 
Mr. Cooke was also an impressive preacher of earnest 
awakening sermons. I remember to have heard it 
observed by some of my undergraduate friends that, 
after all, there was more good to be got from George 
Cooke's plain sermons than from much of the more 
laboured oratory of the University pulpit. He was 
frequently Examiner in the schools, and occupied the 
chair of the Sedleian Professor of Natural Philosophy, 
from 1810 to 1853. 

Before the end of 1805, the little family party 
removed to Southampton. They resided in a com- 
modious old-fashioned house in a corner of Castle 

I have no letters of my aunt, nor any other record 
of her, during her four years' residence at Southamp- 
ton ; and though I now began to know, and, what 
was the same thing, to love her myself, yet my 
observations were only those of a young boy, and 
were not capable of penetrating her character, or 
estimating her powers. I have, however, a lively 
recollection of some local circumstances at South- 
ampton, and as they refer chiefly to things which 
have been long ago swept away, I will record them. 
My grandmother's house had a pleasant garden, 
bounded on one side by the old city walls ; the top 
of this wall was sufficiently wide to afford a pleasant 

?8 A Memoir of 

walk, with an extensive view, easily accessible to 
ladies by steps. This must have been a part of the 
identical walls which witnessed the embarkation of 
Henry V. before the battle of Agincourt, and the 
detection of the conspiracy of Cambridge, Scroop, 
and Grey, which Shakspeare has made so picturesque ; 
when, according to the chorus in Henry V., the citizens 

The well-appointed King at Hampton Pier 
Embark his royalty. 

Among the records of the town of Southampton, 
they have a minute and authentic account, drawn up 
at that time, of the encampment of Henry V. near 
the town, before his embarkment for France. It is 
remarkable that the place where the army was en- 
camped, then a low level plain, is now entirely covered 
by the sea, and is called Westport* At that time 
Castle Square was occupied by a fantastic edifice, too 
large for the space in which it stood, though too small 
to accord well with its castellated style, erected by the 
second Marquis of Lansdowne, half-brother to the 
well-known statesman, who succeeded him in the title. 
The Marchioness had a light phaeton, drawn by six, 
and sometimes by eight little ponies, each pair de- 
creasing in size, and becoming lighter in colour, 
through all the grades of dark brown, light brown, 
bay, and chestnut, as it was placed farther away from 
the carriage. The two leading pairs were managed 
by two boyish postilions, the two pairs nearest to the 

* See Wharton's note to Johnson and Steevens' Shakspeare. 

Jane Austen. 79 

carriage were driven in hand. It was a delight to me 
to look down from the window and see this fairy equi- 
page put together; for the premises of this castle were 
so contracted that the whole process went on in the 
little space that remained of the open square. Like 
other fairy works, however, it all proved evanescent 
Not only carriage and ponies, but castle itself, soon 
vanished away, ' like the baseless fabric of a vision.' 
On the death of the Marquis in 1809, the castle was 
pulled down. Few probably remember its existence ; 
and any one who might visit the place now would 
wonder how it ever could have stood there. 

In 1809 Mr. Knight was able to offer his mother 
the choice of two houses on his property ; one near 
his usual residence at Godmersham Park in Kent ; 
the other near Chawton House, his occasional resi- 
dence in Hampshire. The latter was chosen ; and in 
that year the mother and daughters, together with 
Miss Lloyd, a near connection who lived with them, 
settled themselves at Chawton Cottage. 

Chawton may be called the second \ as well as the 
last home of Jane Austen ; for during the temporary 
residences of the party at Bath and Southampton she 
was only a sojourner in a strange land ; but here she 
found a real home amongst her own people. It so 
happened that during her residence at Chawton cir- 
cumstances brought several of her brothers and their 
families within easy distance of the house. Chawton 
must also be considered the place most closely con- 
nected with her career as a writer; for there it was 
that, in the maturity of her mind, she either wrote or 

So A Memoir of 

rearranged, and prepared for publication the books by 
which she has become known to the world. This was 
the home where, after a few years, while still in the 
prime of life, she began to droop and wither away, and 
which she left only in the last stage of her illness, 
yielding to the persuasion of friends hoping against 

This house stood in the village of Chawton, about 
a mile from Alton, on the right hand side, just where 
the road to Winchester branches off from that to 
Gosport. It was so close to the road that the front 
door opened upon it ; while a very narrow enclosure, 
paled in on each side, protected the building from 
danger of collision with any runaway vehicle. I 
believe it had been originally built for an inn, for 
which purpose it was certainly well situated. After- 
wards it had been occupied by Mr. Knight's steward ; 
but by some additions to the house, and some judi- 
cious planting and skreening, it was made a pleasant 
and commodious abode. Mr. Knight was experienced 
and adroit at such arrangements, and this was a 
labour of love to him. A good-sized entrance and 
two sitting-rooms made the length of the house, all 
intended originally to look upon the road, but the 
large drawing-room window was blocked up and 
turned into a book-case, and another opened at the 
side which gave to view only turf and trees, as a high 
wooden fence and hornbeam hedge shut out the Win- 
chester road, which skirted the whole length of the 
little domain. Trees were planted each side to form 
a shrubbery walk, carried round the enclosure, which 

Jane A usten. 

gave a sufficient space for ladies* exercise. There 
was a pleasant irregular mixture of hedgerow, and 
gravel walk, and orchard, and long grass for mowing, 
arising from two or three little enclosures having been 
thrown together. The house itself was quite as good 
as the generality of parsonage-houses then were, and 
much in the same style ; and was capable of receiv- 
ing other members of the family as frequent visitors. 
It was sufficiently well furnished ; everything inside 
and out was kept in good repair, and it was alto- 
gether a comfortable and ladylike establishment, 
though the means which supported it were not large. 
I give this description because some interest is 
generally taken in the residence of a popular writer. 
Cowper's unattractive house in the street of Olney 
has been pointed out to visitors, and has even at- 
tained the honour of an engraving in Southey's 
edition of his works : but I cannot recommend any 
admirer of Jane Austen to undertake a pilgrimage 
to this spot. The building indeed still stands, but it 
has lost all that gave it its character. After the death 
of Mrs. Cassandra Austen, in 1845, it was divided 
into tenements for labourers, and the grounds re- 
verted to ordinary uses. 


$2 A Memoir of 


Description of Jane Austen 's person, character y and tastes. 

As my memoir has now reached the period when I 
saw a great deal of my aunt, and was old enough to 
understand something of her value, I will here at- 
tempt a description of her person, mind, and habits. 
In person she was very attractive ; her figure was 
rather tall and slender, her step light and firm, and 
her whole appearance expressive of health and ani- 
mation. In complexion she was a clear brunette 
with a rich colour ; she had full round cheeks, with 
mouth and nose small and well formed, bright hazel 
eyes, and brown hair forming natural curls close 
round her face. If not so regularly handsome as her 
sister, yet her countenance had a peculiar charm of 
its own to the eyes of most beholders. At the time 
of which I am now writing, she never was seen, either 
morning or evening, without a cap ; I believe that 
she and her sister were generally thought to have 
taken to the garb of middle age earlier than their 
years or their looks required ; and that, though re- 
markably neat in their dress as in all their ways, they 
were scarcely sufficiently regardful of the fashionable, 
or the becoming. 

Jane Austen. 83 

She was not highly accomplished according to the 
present standard. Her sister drew well, and it is 
from a drawing of hers that the likeness prefixed to 
this volume has been taken. Jane herself was fond 
of music, and had a sweet voice, both in singing and 
in conversation ; in her youth she had received some 
instruction on the pianoforte ; and at Chawton she 
practised daily, chiefly before breakfast. I believe 
she did so partly that she might not disturb the rest 
of the party who were less fond of music. In the 
evening she would sometimes sing, to her own ac- 
companiment, some simple old songs, the words and 
airs of which, now never heard, still linger in my 

She read French with facility, and knew something 
of Italian. In those days German was no more 
thought of than Hindostanee, as part of a lady's 
education. In history she followed the old guides — - 
Goldsmith, Hume, and Robertson. Critical enquiry 
into the usually received statements of the old his- 
torians was scarcely begun. The history of the early 
kings of Rome had not yet been dissolved into 
legend. Historic characters lay before the reader's 
eyes in broad light or shade, not much broken up by 
details. The virtues of King Henry VIII. were yet 
undiscovered, nor had much light been thrown on the 
inconsistencies of Queen Elizabeth ; the one was held 
to be an unmitigated tyrant, and an embodied Blue 
Beard ; the other a perfect model of wisdom and 
policy. Jane, when a girl, had strong political 
opinions, especially about the affairs of the sixteenth 

84 A Memoir of 

and seventeenth centuries. She was a vehement de- 
fender of Charles I. and his grandmother Mary; but 
I think it was rather from an impulse of feeling than 
from any enquiry into the evidences by which they 
must be condemned or acquitted. As she grew up, 
the politics of the day occupied very little of her 
attention, but she probably shared the feeling of 
moderate Toryism which prevailed in her family. 
She was well acquainted with the old periodicals 
from the 'Spectator' downwards. Her knowledge 
of Richardson's works was such as no one is likely 
again to acquire, now that the multitude and the 
merits of our light literature have called off the 
attention of readers from that great master. Every 
circumstance narrated in Sir Charles Grandison, all 
that was ever said or done in the cedar parlour, was 
familiar to her ; and the wedding days of Lady L. 
and Lady G. were as well remembered as if they had 
been living friends. Amongst her favourite writers, 
Johnson in prose, Crabbe in verse, and Cowper in 
both, stood high. It is well that the native good 
taste of herself and of those with whom she lived, 
saved her from the snare into which a sister novelist 
had fallen, of imitating the grandiloquent style of 
Johnson. She thoroughly enjoyed Crabbe; perhaps 
on account of a certain resemblance to herself in 
minute and highly finished detail ; and would some- 
times say, in jest, that, if she ever married at all, 
she could fancy being Mrs. Crabbe ; looking on the 
author quite as an abstiact idea, and ignorant and 
regardless what manner of man he might be. Scott's 

Jane Austen. 85 

poetry gave her great pleasure ; she did not live to 
make much acquaintance with his novels. Only three 
of them were published before her death ; but it will 
be seen by the following extract from one of her 
letters, that she was quite prepared to admit the 
merits of ' Waverley'; and it is remarkable that, living, 
as she did, far apart from the gossip of the literary 
world, she should even then have spoken so confi- 
dently of his being the author of it : — 

' Walter Scott has no business to write novels ; 
especially good ones. It is not fair. He has fame 
and profit enough as a poet, and ought not to be 
taking the bread out of other people's mouths. I do 
not mean to like " Waverley," if I can help it, but I 
fear I must. I am quite determined, however, not to 

be pleased with Mrs. 's, should I ever meet with 

it, which I hope I may not. I think I can be stout 
against anything written by her. I have made up my 
mind to like no novels really, but Miss Edgeworth's, 
E.'s, and my own.' 

It was not, however, what she knew, but what she 
was, that distinguished her from others. I cannot 
better describe the fascination which she exercised 
over children than by quoting the words of two of 
her nieces. One says : — 

* As a very little girl I was always creeping up to 
aunt Jane, and following her whenever I could, in the 
house and out of it. I might not have remembered 
this but for the recollection of my mother's telling me 
privately, that I must not be troublesome to my aunt. 
Her first charm to children was great sweetness of 

S6 A Memoir of 

manner. She seemed to love you, and you loved her 
in return. This, as well as I can now recollect, was 
what I felt in my early days, before I was old enough 
to be amused by her cleverness. But soon came 
the delight of her playful talk. She could make 
everything amusing to a child. Then, as I got older, 
when cousins came to share the entertainment, she 
would tell us the most delightful stories, chiefly of 
Fairyland, and her fairies had all characters of their 
own. The tale was invented, I am sure, at the mo- 
ment, and was continued for two or three days, if 
occasion served.' 

Again : ' When staying at Chawton, with two of 
her other nieces, we often had amusements in which 
my aunt was very helpful. She was the one to whom 
we always looked for help. She would furnish us with 
what we wanted from her wardrobe ; and she would 
be the entertaining visitor in our make-believe house. 
She amused us in various ways. Once, I remember, 
in giving a conversation as between myself and ray 
two cousins, supposing we were all grown up, the day 
after a ball/ 

Very similar is the testimony of another niece : — 
' Aunt Jane was the general favourite with children ; 
her ways with them being so playful, and her long 
circumstantial stories so delightful. These were con- 
tinued from time to time, and were begged for on all 
possible and impossible occasions ; woven, as she pro- 
ceeded, out of nothing but her own happy talent for 
invention. Ah ! if but one of them could be reco- 
vered ! And again, as I grew older, when the ori- 

Jane A listen. 87 

ginal seventeen years between our ages seemed to 
shrink to seven, or to nothing, it comes back to me 
now how strangely I missed her. It had become so 
much a habit with me to put by things in my mind 
with a reference to her, and to say to myself, I shall 
keep this for aunt Jane.' 

A nephew of hers used to observe that his visits to 
Chawton, after the death of his aunt Jane, were always 
a disappointment to him. From old associations he 
could not help expecting to be particularly happy in 
that house ; and never till he got there could he rea- 
lise to himself how all its peculiar charm was gone. 
It was not only that the chief light in the house was 
quenched, but that the loss of it had cast a shade over 
the spirits of the survivors. Enough has been said to 
show her love for children, and her wonderful power 
of entertaining them ; but her friends of all ages felt 
her enlivening influence. Her unusually quick sense 
of the ridiculous led her to play with all the common- 
places of everyday life, whether as regarded persons 
or things ; but she never played with its serious duties 
or responsibilities, nor did she ever turn individuals 
into ridicule. With all her neighbours in the village 
she was on friendly, though not on intimate, terms. 
She took a kindly interest in all their proceedings, 
and liked to hear about them. They often served for 
her amusement ; but it was her own nonsense that 
gave zest to the gossip. She was as far as possible 
from being censorious or satirical. She never abused 
them or quizzed them — that was the word of the day ; 
an ugly word, now obsolete ; and the ugly practice 

88 A Memoir of 

which it expressed is much less prevalent now than it 
was then. The laugh which she occasionally raised 
was by imagining for her neighbours, as she was 
equally ready to imagine for her friends or herself, 
impossible contingencies, or by relating in prose or 
verse some trifling anecdote coloured to her own 
fancy, or in writing a fictitious history of what they 
were supposed to have said or done, which could 
deceive nobody. 

The following specimens may be given of the live- 
liness of mind which imparted an agreeable flavour 
both to her correspondence and her conversation : — 

On reading in the newspapers the marriage of 
Mr. Gell to Miss Gill, of Eastbourne. 

At Eastbourne Mr. Gell, From being perfectly well, 
Became dreadfully ill, For love of Miss Gill. 
So he said, with some sighs, I'm the slave of your its ; 
Oh, restore, if you please, By accepting my ees. 

On the marriage of a middle-aged Flirt with a 
Mr. Wake, whom, it was supposed, she would 
scarcely have accepted in her youth. 

Maria, good-humoured, and handsome, and tall, 
For a husband was at her last stake ; 

And having in vain danced at many a ball, 
Is now happy iojtunp at a Wake, 

* We were all at the play last night to see Miss 
O'Neil in Isabella. I do not think she was quite 
equal to my expectation. I fancy I want something 
more than can be. Acting seldom satisfies me. I 

Jane Auste?t. 89 

took two pockethandkerchiefs, but had very little 
occasion for either. She is an elegant creature, how- 
ever, and hugs Mr. Young delightfully.' 

' So, Miss B. is actually married, but I have never 
seen it in the papers ; and one may as well be single 
if the wedding is not to be in print/ 

Once, too, she took it into her head to write the 
following mock panegyric on a young friend, who 
really was clever and handsome : — 

In measured verse I'll now rehearse 
The charms of lovely Anna : 

And, first, her mind is unconfined 
Like any vast savannah. 

Ontario's lake may fitly speak 

Her fancy's ample bound : 
Its circuit may, on strict survey 

Five hundred miles be found. 


Her wit descends on foes and friends 

Like famed Niagara's Fall ; 
And travellers gaze in wild amaze, 

And listen, one and all. 

Her judgment sound, thick, black, profound, 

Like transatlantic groves, 
Dispenses aid, and friendly shade 

To all that in it roves. 

90 A Memoir of 


If thus her mind to be defined 

America exhausts, 
And all that's grand in that great land 

In similes it costs — 

Oh how can I her person try- 
To image and portray ? 

How paint the face, the form how trace 
In which those virtues lay ? 


Another world must be unfurled, 

Another language known, 
Ere tongue or sound can publish round 

Her charms of flesh and bone. 

I believe that all this nonsense was nearly extem- 
pore, and that the fancy of drawing the images from 
America arose at the moment from the obvious rhyme 
which presented itself in the first stanza. 

The following extracts are from letters addressed 
to a niece who was at that time amusing herself by 
attempting a novel, probably never finished, certainly 
never published, and of which I know nothing but 
what these extracts tell. They show the good-natured 
sympathy and encouragement which the aunt, then 
herself occupied in writing l Emma/ could give to the 
less matured powers of the niece. They bring out 
incidentally some of her opinions concerning compo- 
sitions of that kind : — 

Jane A us ten. 9 i 


* Chawton, Aug. io, 1814. 

' Your aunt C. does not like desultory novels, and 
is rather fearful that yours will be too much so ; that 
there will be too frequent a change from one set of 
people to another, and that circumstances will be 
sometimes introduced, of apparent consequence, which 
will lead to nothing. It will not be so great an objec- 
tion to me. I allow much more latitude than she 
does, and think nature and spirit cover many sins of 
a wandering story. And people in general do not 
care much about it, for your comfort. . . .' 

* Sept 9. 

'You are now collecting your people delightfully, 
getting them exactly into such a spot as is the delight 
of my life. Three or four families in a country vil- 
lage is the very thing to work on ; and I hope you 
will write a great deal more, and make full use of 
them while they are so very favourably arranged/ 

« Sept. 28. 
' Devereux Forrester being ruined by his vanity is 
very good : but I wish you would not let him plunge 
into a " vortex of dissipation." I do not object to the 
thing, but I cannot bear the expression : it is such 
thorough novel slang ; and so old that I dare say 
Adam met with it in the first novel that he opened/ 

92 A Memoir of 

1 Hans Place (Nov. 1814). 

' I have been very far from finding your book an 
evil, I assure you. I read it immediately, and with 
great pleasure. Indeed, I do think you get on very 
fast. I wish other people of my acquaintance could 
compose as rapidly. Julian's history was quite a 
surprise to me. You had not very long known it 
yourself, I suspect ; but I have no objection to make 
to the circumstance ; it is very well told, and his 
having been in love with the aunt gives Cecilia an 
additional interest with him. I like the idea ; a very 
proper compliment to an aunt ! I rather imagine, 
indeed, that nieces are seldom chosen but in compli- 
ment to some aunt or other. I dare say your husband 
was in love with me once, and would never have 
thought of you if he had not supposed me dead of a 
scarlet fever/ 

Jane Austen was successful in everything that she 
attempted with her fingers. None of us could throw 
spilikins in so perfect a circle, or take them off with 
so steady a hand. Her performances with cup and 
ball were marvellous. The one used at Chawton was 
an easy one, and she has been known to catch it on 
the point above an hundred times in succession, till her 
hand was weary. She sometimes found a resource in 
that simple game, when unable, from weakness in her 
eyes, to read or write long together. A specimen of her 
clear strong handwriting is here given. Happy would 
the compositors for the press be if they had always so 
legible a manuscript to work from. But the writing 

Jane Austen. 93 

was not the only part of her letters which showed 
superior handiwork. In those days there was an art 
in folding and sealing. No adhesive envelopes made 
all easy. Some people's letters always looked loose 
and untidy ; but her paper was sure to take the right 
folds, and her sealing-wax to drop into the right place. 
Her needlework both plain and ornamental was ex- 
cellent, and might almost have put a sewing machine 
to shame. She was considered especially great in 
satin stitch. She spent much time in these occupations, 
and some of her merriest talk was over clothes which 
she and her companions were making, sometimes for 
themselves, and sometimes for the poor. There still 
remains a curious specimen of her needlework made 
for a sister-in-law, my mother. In a very small bag 
is deposited a little rolled up housewife, furnished with 
minikin needles and fine thread. In the housewife is 
a tiny pocket, and in the pocket is enclosed a slip of 
paper, on which, written as with a crow quill, are these 
lines : — 

This little bag, I hope, will prove 

To be not vainly made ; 
For should you thread and needles want, 

It will afford you aid. 

And, as we are about to part, 

'T will serve another end : 
For, when you look upon this bag, 

You'll recollect your friend. 

It is the kind of article that some benevolent fairy 
might be supposed to give as a reward to a dili- 

94 A Memoir of 

gent little girl. The whole is of flowered silk, and 
having been never used and carefully preserved, it is 
as fresh and bright as when it was first made seventy- 
years ago ; and shows that the same hand which 
painted so exquisitely with the pen could work as 
delicately with the needle. 

I have collected some of the bright qualities which 
shone, as it were, on the surface of Jane Austen's 
character, and attracted most notice ; but underneath 
them there lay the strong foundations of sound sense 
and judgment, rectitude of principle, and delicacy of 
feeling, qualifying her equally to advise, assist, or 
amuse. She was, in fact, as ready to comfort the 
unhappy, or to nurse the sick, as she was to laugh 
and jest with the light-hearted. Two of her nieces 
were grown up, and one of them was married, before 
she was taken away from them. As their minds be- 
came more matured, they were admitted into closer 
intimacy with her, and learned more of her graver 
thoughts ; they know what a sympathising friend and 
judicious adviser they found her to be in many little 
difficulties and doubts of early womanhood. 

I do not venture to speak of her religious prin- 
ciples : that is a subject on which she herself was 
more inclined to think and act than to talk, and I shall 
imitate her reserve ; satisfied to have shown how much 
of Christian love and humility abounded in her heart, 
without presuming to lay bare the roots whence those 
graces grew. Some little insight, however, into these 
deeper recesses of the heart must be given, when we 
come to speak of her death. 

Jane Austen. 95 


Habits of Composition resumed after a long interval — First publication — 
The interest taken by the Author in the success of her Works, 

IT may seem extraordinary that Jane Austen should 
have written so little during the years that elapsed 
between leaving Steventon and settling at Chawton ; 
especially when this cessation from work is contrasted 
with her literary activity both before and after that 
period. It might rather have been expected that fresh 
scenes and new acquaintance would have called forth 
her powers ; while the quiet life which the family led 
both at Bath and Southampton must have afforded 
abundant leisure for composition ; but so it was that 
nothing which I know of, certainly nothing which the 
public have seen, was completed in either of those 
places. I can only state the fact, without assigning any 
cause for it ; but as soon as she was fixed in her second 
home, she resumed the habits of composition which 
had been formed in her first, and continued them to 
the end of her life. The first year of her residence 
at Chawton seems to have been devoted to revising 
and preparing for the press ' Sense and Sensibility/ 
and 'Pride and Prejudice'; but between February 
181 1 and August 1816, she began and completed 
' Mansfield Park/ ' Emma/ and * Persuasion/ so that 
the last five years of her life produced the same 

96 A Memoir of 

number of novels with those which had been written 
in her early youth. How she was able to effect all 
this is surprising, for she had no separate study to 
retire to, and most of the work must have been done 
in the general sitting-room, subject to all kinds of 
casual interruptions. She was careful that her occu- 
pation should not be suspected by servants, or visitors, 
or any persons beyond her own family party. She 
wrote upon small sheets of paper which could easily 
be put away, or covered with a piece of blotting 
paper. There was, between the front door and the 
offices, a swing door which creaked when it was 
opened ; but she objected to having this little incon- 
venience remedied, because it gave her notice when 
anyone was coming. She was not, however, troubled 
with companions like her own Mrs. Allen in ' North- 
anger Abbey/ whose ' vacancy of mind and incapacity 
for thinking were such that, as she never talked a 
great deal, so she could never be entirely silent ; and 
therefore, while she sat at work, if she lost her needle, 
or broke her thread, or saw a speck of dirt on her 
gown, she must observe it, whether there were any 
one at leisure to answer her or not.' In that well 
occupied female party there must have been many 
precious hours of silence during which the pen was 
busy at the little mahogany writing-desk,* while 
Fanny Price, or Emma Woodhouse, or Anne Elliott 
was growing into beauty and interest. I have no 
doubt that I, and my sisters and cousins, in our visits 

* This mahogany desk, which has done good service to the public, is 
now in the possession of my sister, Miss Austen. 

Jane Austen, 97 

to Chawton, frequently disturbed this mystic process, 
without having any idea of the mischief that we were 
doing ; certainly we never should have guessed it by 
any signs of impatience or irritability in the writer. 

As so much had been previously prepared, when 
once she began to publish, her works came out in 
quick succession. ' Sense and Sensibility * w T as pub- 
lished in 181 1, ' Pride and Prejudice ' at the beginning 
of 18 1 3, 'Mansfield Park' in 18 14, 'Emma' early in 
18 16 ; ' Northanger Abbey ' and ' Persuasion ' did not 
appear till, after her death, in 1 8 1 8. It will be shown 
farther on why ' Northanger Abbey/ though amongst 
the first written, was one of the last published. Her 
first three novels were published by Egerton, her last 
three by Murray. The profits of the four which had 
been printed before her death had not at that time 
amounted to seven hundred pounds. 

I have no record of the publication of ' Sense and 
Sensibility/ nor of the author's feelings at this her first 
appearance before the public ; but the following ex- 
tracts from three letters to her sister give a lively 
picture of the interest with which she watched the 
reception of ' Pride and Prejudice/ and show the 
carefulness with which she corrected her compositions, 
and rejected much that had been written : — 

'Chawton, Friday, January 29 (181 3). 

( I hope you received my little parcel by J. Bond on 
Wednesday evening, my dear Cassandra, and that you 
will be ready to hear from me again on Sunday, for I 
feel that I must write to you to-day. I want to tell 


gS A Memoir of 

you that I have got my own darling child from 
London. On Wednesday I received one copy sent 
down by Falkener, with three lines from Henry to say 
that he had given another to Charles and sent a third 
by the coach to Godmersham. . . . The advertise- 
ment is in our paper to-day for the first time : iSs. 
He shall ask \L is. for my two next, and i/. Ss. for 
my stupidest of all. Miss B. dined w T ith us on the 
very day of the book's coming, and in the evening we 
fairly set at it, and read half the first vol. to her, pre- 
facing that, having intelligence from Henry that such 
a work would soon appear, we had desired him to 
send it whenever it came out, and I believe it passed 
with her unsuspected. She was amused, poor soul ! 
That she could not help, you know, with two such 
people to lead the way, but she really does seem to 
admire Elizabeth. I must confess that I think her as 
delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, and 
how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like 
her at least I do not know. There are a few typical 
errors ; and a " said he," or a " said she," would some- 
times make the dialogue more immediately clear ; but 
" I do not write for such dull elves " as have not a 
great deal of ingenuity themselves. The second vo- 
lume is shorter than I could wish, but the difference 
is not so much in reality as in look, there being a larger 
proportion of narrative in that part. I have lop't and 
crop't so successfully, however, that I imagine it 
must be rather shorter than " Sense and Sensibility " 
altogether. Now I will try and write of something 

Jane Austen. 99 

* Chawton, Thursday, February 4(1813). 

'My dear Cassandra, — Your letter was truly 
welcome, and I am much obliged to you for all your 
praise ; it came at a right time, for I had had some fits of 
disgust. Our second evening's reading to Miss B. had 
not pleased me so well, but I believe something must 
be attributed to my mother's too rapid way of getting 
on : though she perfectly understands the characters 
herself, she cannot speak as they ought. Upon the 
whole, however, I am quite vain enough and well satis- 
fied enough. The work is rather too light, and bright, 
and sparkling ; it wants shade ; it wants to be stretched 
out here and there with a long chapter of sense, if it 
could be had ; if not, of solemn specious nonsense, 
about something unconnected with the story; an 
essay on writing, a critique on Walter Scott, or the 
history of Buonaparte, or something that would form 
a contrast, and bring the reader with increased delight 
to the playfulness and epigrammatism of the general 
style. . . . The greatest blunder in the printing that I 
have met with is in page 220, v. 3, where two speeches 
are made into one. There might as well be no sup- 
pers at Longbourn ; but I suppose it was the remains 
of Mrs. Bennett's old Meryton habits.' 

The following letter seems to have been written 
soon after the last two : in February 1813 : — 

' This will be a quick return for yours, my dear 
Cassandra ; I doubt its having much else to recom- 
mend it ; but there is no saying ; it may turn out to 
be a very long and delightful letter. I am exceedingly 

ioo A Memoir of 

pleased that you can say what you do, after having 
gone through the whole work, and Fanny's praise is 
very gratifying. My hopes were tolerably strong of 
her, but nothing like a certainty. Her liking Darcy 
and Elizabeth is enough. She might hate all the 
others, if she would. I have her opinion under her 
own hand this morning, but your transcript of it, 
which I read first, was not, and is not, the less accept- 
able. To me it is of course all praise, but the more exact 

truth which she sends you is good enough Our 

party on Wednesday was not unagreeable, though we 
wanted a master of the house less anxious and fidgety, 

and more conversible. Upon Mrs. 's mentioning 

that she had sent the rejected addresses to Mrs. H., I 
began talking to her a little about them, and expressed 
my hope of their having amused her. Her answer 
was, " Oh dear yes, very much, very droll indeed, the 
opening of the house, and the striking up of the 
fiddles ! " What she meant, poor woman, who shall 
say ? I sought no farther. As soon as a whist party 
was formed, and a round table threatened, I made 
my mother an excuse and came away, leaving just as 
many for their round table as there were at Mrs. 
Grant's.* I wish they might be as agreeable a set. 
My mother is very well, and finds great amusement 
in glove-knitting, and at present wants no other work. 
We quite run over with books. She has got Sir 
John Carr's " Travels in Spain," and I am reading a 
Society octavo, an " Essay on the Military Police and 
Institutions of the British Empire," by Capt. Pasley of 

* At this time, February 1813, 'Mansfield Park' was nearly finished. 

Jane Austen. ioi 

the Engineers, a book which I protested against at 
first, but which upon trial I find delightfully written 
and highly entertaining. I am as much in love with 
the author as I ever was with Clarkson or Buchanan, 
or even the two Mr. Smiths of the city. The first 
soldier I ever sighed for; but he does write with ex- 
traordinary force and spirit. Yesterday, moreover, 
brought us " Mrs. Grant's Letters," with Mr. White's 
compliments ; but I have disposed of them, compli- 
ments and all, to Miss P., and amongst so many 
readers or retainers of books as we have in Chawton, 
I dare say there will be no difficulty in getting rid 
of them for another fortnight, if necessary. I have 
disposed of Mrs. Grant for the second fortnight to 

Mrs. . It can make no difference to her which of 

the twenty-six fortnights in the year the 3 vols, lie on 
her table. I have been applied to for information as 
to the oath taken in former times of Bell, Book, and 
Candle, but have none to give. Perhaps you may be 
able to learn something of its origin where you now 
are. Ladies who read those enormous great stupid 
thick quarto volumes which one always sees in the 
breakfast parlour there must be acquainted with every- 
thing in the world. I detest a quarto. Capt. Pasley's 
book is too good for their society. They will not 
understand a man who condenses his thoughts into 
an octavo. I have learned from Sir J. Carr that there 
is no Government House at Gibraltar. I must alter 
it to the Commissioner's/ 

The following letter belongs to the same year, but 

102 A Memoir of 

treats of a different subject. It describes a journey 
from Chawton to London, in her brother's curricle, 
and shows how much could be seen and enjoyed in 
course of a long summer's day by leisurely travelling 
amongst scenery which the traveller in an express 
train now rushes through in little more than an hour, 
but scarcely sees at all : — 

' Sloane Street, Thursday, May 20 (1813). 

'My dear Cassandra, 
' Before I say anything else, I claim a paper full of 
halfpence on the drawing-room mantel-piece ; I put 
them there myself, and forgot to bring them with me. 
I cannot say that I have yet been in any distress for 
money, but I chuse to have my due, as well as the 
Devil. How lucky we were in our weather yesterday! 
This wet morning makes one more sensible of it. We 
had no rain of any consequence. The head of the 
curricle was put half up three or four times, but our 
share of the showers was very trifling, though they 
seemed to be heavy all round us, when we were on 
the Hog s-back, and I fancied it might then be raining 
so hard at Chawton as to make you feel for us much 
more than we deserved. Three hours and a quarter 
took us to Guildford, where we staid barely two hours, 
and had only just time enough for all we had to do 
there ; that is, eating a long and comfortable breakfast, 
watching the carriages, paying Mr. Harrington, and 
taking a little stroll afterwards. From some views 
which that stroll gave us, I think most highly of the 
situation of Guildford. We wanted all our brothers 

Jane Austen. 103 

and sisters to be standing with us in the bowling- 
green, and looking towards Horsham. I was very 
lucky in my gloves — got them at the first shop I 
went to, though I went into it rather because it was 
near than because it looked at all like a glove shop, 
and gave only four shillings for them ; after which 
everybody at Chawton will be hoping and predicting 
that they cannot be good for anything, and their 
worth certainly remains to be proved ; but I think they 
look very well. We left Guildford at twenty minutes 
before twelve (I hope somebody cares for these 
minutiae), and were at Esher in about two hours more. 
I was very much pleased with the country in general. 
Between Guildford and Ripley I thought it particularly 
pretty, also about Painshill ; and from a Mr. Spicer's 
grounds at Esher, which we walked into before dinner, 
the views were beautiful. I cannot say what we did 
not see, but I should think there could not be a 
wood, or a meadow, or palace, or remarkable spot in 
England that was not spread out before us on one 
side or other. Claremont is going to be sold : a Mr. 
Ellis has it now. It is a house that seems never to 
have prospered. After dinner we walked forward 
to be overtaken at the coachman's time, and before 
he did overtake us we were very near Kingston. I 
fancy it was about half-past six when we reached this 
house — a twelve hours' business, and the horses did not 
appear more than reasonably tired. I was very tired 
too, and glad to get to bed early, but am quite well 
to-day. I am very snug in the front drawing-room 
all to myself, and would not say "thank you" for 

104 ^ Memoir of 

any company but you. The quietness of it does me 
good. I have contrived to pay my two visits, though 
the weather made me a great while about it, and left 
me only a few minutes to sit with Charlotte Craven * 
She looks very well, and her hair is done up with 
an elegance to do credit to any education. Her 
manners are as unaffected and pleasing as ever. She 
had heard from her mother to-day. Mrs. Craven 
spends another fortnight at Chilton. I saw nobody 
but Charlotte, which pleased me best. I was shewn 
upstairs into a drawing-room, where she came to me, 
and the appearance of the room, so totally unschool- 
like, amused me very much ; it was full of modern 

< Yours very affec 11 *-, ' J. A.' 

The next letter, written in the following year, 
contains an account of another journey to London, 
with her brother Henry, and reading with him the 
manuscript of ' Mansfield Park ' : — 

« Henrietta Street, Wednesday, March 2 (18 14). 

< My dear Cassandra, 
'You were wrong in thinking of us at Guildford 
last night: we were at Cobham. On reaching G. 
we found that John and the horses were gone on. 
We therefore did no more than we had done at 
Farnham — sit in the carriage while fresh horses were 
put in, and proceeded directly to Cobham, which we 

* The present Lady Pollen, of Redenham, near Andover, then at a 
school in London. 

Jane Austen. 105 

reached by seven, and about eight were sitting down 
to a very nice roast fowl, &c. We had altogether a very 
good journey, and everything at Cobham was comfort- 
able. I could not pay Mr. Harrington ! That was the 
only alas ! of the business. I shall therefore return 
his bill, and my mother's 2/., that you may try your 
luck. We did not begin reading till Bentley Green. 
Henry's approbation is hitherto even equal to my 
wishes. He says it is different from the other two, 
but does not appear to think it at all inferior. He 
has only married Mrs. R. I am afraid he has gone 
through the most entertaining part. He took to 
Lady B. and Mrs. N. most kindly, and gives great 
praise to the drawing of the characters. He under- 
stands them all, likes Fanny, and, I think, foresees how 
it will all be. I finished the " Heroine " last night, and 
was very much amused by it. I wonder James did 
not like it better. It diverted me exceedingly. We 
went to bed at ten. I was very tired, but slept to a 
miracle, and am lovely to-day, and at present Henry 
seems to have no complaint. We left Cobham at 
half-past eight, stopped to bait and breakfast at King- 
ston, and were in this house considerably before two. 
Nice smiling Mr. Barlowe met us at the door and, in 
reply to enquiries after news, said that peace was 
generally expected. I have taken possession of my 
bedroom, unpacked my bandbox, sent Miss P/s two 
letters to the twopenny post, been visited by M d * B., 
and am now writing by myself at the new table in 
the front room. It is snowing. We had some snow- 
storms yesterday, and a smart frost at night, which 

io6 A Memoir of 

gave us a hard road from Cobham to Kingston ; but 
as it was then getting dirty and heavy, Henry had a 
pair of leaders put on to the bottom of Sloane St. 
His own horses, therefore, cannot have had hard work. 
I watched for veils as we drove through the streets, 
and had the pleasure of seeing several upon vulgar 
heads. And now, how do you all do ? — you in par- 
ticular, after the worry of yesterday and the day 
before. I hope Martha had a pleasant visit again, 
and that you and my mother could eat your beef- 
pudding. Depend upon my thinking of the chimney- 
sweeper as soon as I wake to-morrow. Places are 
secured at Drury Lane for Saturday, but so great is 
the rage for seeing Kean that only a third and fourth 
row could be got ; as it is in a front box, however, I 
hope we shall do pretty well— Shylock, a good play 
for Fanny — she cannot be much affected, I think 
Mrs. Perigord has just been here. She tells me that 
we owe her master for the silk-dyeing. My poor 
old muslin has never been dyed yet. It has been 
promised to be done several times. What wicked 
people dyers are. They begin with dipping their 
own souls in scarlet sin. It is evening. We have 
drank tea, and I have torn through the third vol. of 
the " Heroine." I do not think it falls off. It is a 
delightful burlesque, particularly on the Radcliffe 
style. Henry is going on with " Mansfield Park." He 
admires H. Crawford : I mean properly, as a clever, 
pleasant man. I tell you all the good I can, as I 
know how much you will enjoy it. We hear that 
Mr. Kean is more admired than ever. There are no 

Jane Austen. 107 

good places to be got in Drury Lane for the next 
fortnight, but Henry means to secure some for Satur- 
day fortnight, when you are reckoned upon. Give 
my love to little Cass. I hope she found my bed 
comfortable last night. I have seen nobody in Lon- 
don yet with such a long chin as Dr. Syntax, nor 
anybody quite so large as Gogmagolicus. 

* Yours aff *. , 

'J. Austen/ 

io8 A Memoir of 


Seclusion from the literary world — Notice from the Prince Regent — 
Correspondence with Mr. Clarke — Suggestions to alter her style of 

Jane AUSTEN lived in entire seclusion from the 
literary world : neither by correspondence, nor by 
personal intercourse was she known to any contem- 
porary authors. It is probable that she never was in 
company with any person whose talents or whose 
celebrity equalled her own ; so that her powers never 
could have been sharpened by collision with superior 
intellects, nor her imagination aided by their casual 
suggestions. Whatever she produced was a genuine 
home-made article. Even during the last two or 
three years of her life, when her works were rising in 
the estimation of the public, they did not enlarge 
the circle of her acquaintance. Few of her readers 
knew even her name, and none knew more of her 
than her name. I doubt whether it would be pos- 
sible to mention any other author of note, whose 
personal obscurity was so complete. I can think of 
none like her, but of many to contrast with her in 
that respect Fanny Burney, afterwards Madame 
D'Arblay, was at an early age petted by Dr. Johnson, 

Jane Austen. 109 

and introduced to the wits and scholars of the day 
at the tables of Mrs. Thrale and Sir Joshua Rey- 
nolds. Anna Seward, in her self-constituted shrine 
at Lichfield, would have been miserable, had she not 
trusted that the eyes. of all lovers of poetry were 
devoutly fixed on her. Joanna Baillie and Maria 
Edgeworth were indeed far from courting publicity ; 
they loved the privacy of their own families, one with 
her brother and sister in their Hampstead villa, the 
other in her more distant retreat in Ireland ; but 
fame pursued them, and they were the favourite cor- 
respondents of Sir Walter Scott. Crabbe, who was 
usually buried in a country parish, yet sometimes 
visited London, and dined at Holland House, and was 
received as a fellow-poet by Campbell, Moore, and 
Rogers; and on one memorable occasion he was 
Scott's guest at Edinburgh, and gazed with wonder- 
ing eyes on the incongruous pageantry with which 
George IV. was entertained in that city. Even those 
great writers who hid themselves amongst lakes and 
mountains associated with each other; and though 
little seen by the world were so much in its thoughts 
that a new term, ' Lakers,' was coined to designate 
them. The chief part of Charlotte Bronte's life was 
spent in a wild solitude compared with which Ste- 
venton and Chawton might be considered to be in 
the gay world ; and yet she attained to personal 
distinction which never fell to Jane's lot. When she 
visited her kind publisher in London, literary men 
and women were invited purposely to meet her : 
Thackeray bestowed upon her the honour of his 

no A Memoir of 

notice ; and once in Willis's Rooms,* she had to 
walk shy and trembling through an avenue of lords 
and ladies, drawn up for the purpose of gazing at 
the author of * Jane Eyre.' Miss Mitford, too, lived 
quietly in ' Our Village/ devoting her time and talents 
to the benefit of a father scarcely worth of her ; but 
she did not live there unknown. Her tragedies gave 
her a name in London. She numbered Milman and 
Talfourd amongst her correspondents ; and her works 
were a passport to the society of many who would 
not otherwise have sought her. Hundreds admired 
Miss Mitford on account of her writings for one who 
ever connected the idea of Miss Austen with the 
press. A few years ago, a gentleman visiting Win- 
chester Cathedral desired to be shown Miss Austen's 
grave. The verger, as he pointed it out, asked, 
' Pray, sir, can you tell me whether there was any- 
thing particular about that lady; so many people 
want to know where she was buried ? ' During her 
life the ignorance of the verger was shared by most 
people ; few knew that ' there was anything par- 
ticular about that lady.' 

It was not till towards the close of her life, when 
the last of the works that she saw published was in 
the press, that she received the only mark of dis- 
tinction ever bestowed upon her; and that was re- 
markable for the high quarter whence it emanated 
rather than for any actual increase of fame that it 
conferred. It happened thus. In the autumn of 
1815 she nursed her brother Henry through a dan- 
* See Mrs. Gaskell's 'Life of Miss Bronte,* voL ii. p. 215. 

Jane Austen. \\\ 

gerous fever and slow convalescence at his house in 
Hans Place. He was attended by one of the Prince 
Regent's physicians. All attempts to keep her name 
secret had at this time ceased, and though it had 
never appeared on a title-page, all who cared to 
know might easily learn it : and the friendly phy- 
sician was aware that his patient's nurse was the 
author of 'Pride and Prejudice. , Accordingly he 
informed her one day that the Prince was a great 
admirer of her novels ; that he read them often, and 
kept a set in every one of his residences ; that he 
himself therefore had thought it right to inform his 
Royal Highness that Miss Austen was staying in 
London, and that the Prince had desired Mr. Clarke, 
the librarian of Carlton House, to wait upon her. 
The next day Mr. Clarke made his appearance, and 
invited her to Carlton House, saying that he had 
the Prince's instructions to show her the library and 
other apartments, and to pay her every possible atten- 
tion. The invitation was of course accepted, and 
during the visit to Carlton House Mr. Clarke de- 
clared himself commissioned to say that if Miss 
Austen had any other novel forthcoming she was at 
liberty to dedicate it to the Prince. Accordingly such 
a dedication was immediately prefixed to 'Emma/ 
which was at that time in the press. 

Mr. Clarke was the brother of Dr. Clarke, the 
traveller and mineralogist, whose life has been written 
by Bishop Otter. Jane found in him not only a very 
courteous gentleman, but also a warm admirer of her 
talents ; though it will be seen by his letters that he 

112 A Memoir of 

did not clearly apprehend the limits of her powers, 
or the proper field for their exercise. The following 
correspondence took place between them. 

Feeling some apprehension lest she should make a 
mistake in acting on the verbal permission which she 
had received from the Prince, Jane addressed the 
following letter to Mr. Clarke : — 

'Nov. 15, 1815. 

'Sir, — I must take the liberty of asking you a 
question. Among the many flattering attentions 
which I received from you at Carlton House on 
Monday last was the information of my being at 
liberty to dedicate any future work to His Royal 
Highness the Prince Regent, without the necessity 
of any solicitation on my part. Such, at least, I 
believed to be your words ; but as I am very anxious 
to be quite certain of what was intended, I entreat 
you to have the goodness to inform me how such a 
permission is to be understood, and whether it is 
incumbent on me to show my sense of the honour by 
inscribing the work now in the press to His Royal 
Highness ; I should be equally concerned to appear 
either presumptuous or ungrateful.' 

The following gracious answer was returned by 
Mr. Clarke, together with a suggestion which must 
have been received with some surprise : — 

'Carlton House, Nov. 16, 1815. 

s DEAR Madam, — It is certainly not incumbent on 
you to dedicate your work now in the press to His 

Jane Austen. 113 

Royal Highness ; but if you wish to do the Regent 
that honour either now or at any future period I am 
happy to send you that permission, which need not 
require any more trouble or solicitation on your part. 

i Your late works, Madam, and in particular " Mans- 
field Park," reflect the highest honour on your genius 
and your principles. In every new work your mind 
seems to increase its energy and power of discrimi- 
nation. The Regent has read and admired all your 

'Accept my best thanks for the pleasure your 
volumes have given me. In the perusal of them I 
felt a great inclination to write and say so. And I 
also, dear Madam, wished to be allowed to ask you 
to delineate in some future work the habits of life, 
and character, and enthusiasm of a clergyman, who 
should pass his time between the metropolis and the 
country, who should be something like Beattie's 
Minstrel — 

Silent when glad, affectionate tho' shy, 

And in his looks was most demurely sad ; 
And now he laughed aloud, yet none knew why. 

Neither Goldsmith, nor La Fontaine in his "Tableau 
de Famille," have in my mind quite delineated an 
English clergyman, at least of the present day, fond 
of and entirely engaged in literature, no man's enemy 
but his own. Pray, dear Madam, think of these 

* Believe me at all times with sincerity and 
respect, your faithful and obliged servant, 
' J. S. Clarke, Librarian/ 

H4 A Memoir of 

The following letter, written in reply, will show 
how unequal the author of 'Pride and Prejudice' 
felt herself to delineating an enthusiastic clergyman 
of the present day, who should resemble Beattie's 
Minstrel : — 

1 Dec. ii. 

' Dear Sir, — My " Emma " is now so near pub- 
lication that I feel it right to assure you of my not 
having forgotten your kind recommendation of an 
early copy for Carlton House, and that I have Mr. 
Murray's promise of its being sent to His Royal 
Highness, under cover to you, three days previous to 
the work being really out. I must make use of this 
opportunity to thank you, dear Sir, for the very high 
praise you bestow on my other novels. I am too 
vain to wish to convince you that you have praised 
them beyond their merits. My greatest anxiety at 
present is that this fourth work should not disgrace 
what was good in the others. But on this point I 
will do myself the justice to declare that, whatever 
may be my wishes for its success, I am strongly 
haunted with the idea that to those readers who have 
preferred "Pride and Prejudice" it will appear in- 
ferior in wit, and to those who have preferred " Mans- 
field Park " inferior in good sense. Such as it is, 
however, I hope you will do me the favour of accept- 
ing a copy. Mr. Murray will have directions for 
sending one. I am quite honoured by your thinking 
me capable of drawing such a clergyman as you gave 
the sketch of in your note of Nov. i6th. But I 

Jane Austen. 115 

assure you I am not The comic part of the cha- 
racter I might be equal to, but not the good, the 
enthusiastic, the literary. Such a man's conversation 
must at times be on subjects of science and philoso- 
phy, of which I know nothing ; or at least be occa- 
sionally abundant in quotations and allusions which 
a woman who, like me, knows only her own mother 
tongue, and has read little in that, would be totally 
without the power of giving. A classical education, 
or at any rate a very extensive acquaintance with 
English literature, ancient and modern, appears to 
me quite indispensable for the person who would do 
any justice to your clergyman ; and I think I may 
boast myself to be, with all possible vanity, the most 
unlearned and uninformed female who ever dared to 
be an authoress. 

' Believe me, dear Sir, 
' Your obliged and faithful hum bl Ser*. 

'Jane Austen.'* 

Mr. Clarke, however, was not to be discouraged 
from proposing another subject He had recently 
been appointed chaplain and private English secre- 
tary to Prince Leopold, who was then about to 
be united to the Princess Charlotte ; and when he 
again wrote to express the gracious thanks of the 
Prince Regent for the copy of ' Emma ' which had 
been presented, he suggests that ' an historical ro- 

* It was her pleasure to boast of greater ignorance than she had any- 
just claim to. She knew more than her mother tongue, for she knew a 
good deal of French and a little of Italian. 

I 2 

Ii6 A Memoir of 

mance illustrative of the august House of Cobourg 
would just now be very interesting/ and might very 
properly be dedicated to Prince Leopold. This was 
much as if Sir William Ross had been set to paint 
a great battle-piece ; and it is amusing to see with 
what grave civility she declined a proposal which 
must have struck her as ludicrous, in the following 
letter :— 

' My dear Sir, — I am honoured by the Prince's 
thanks and very much obliged to yourself for the 
kind manner in which you mention the work. I 
have also to acknowledge a former letter forwarded 
to me from Hans Place. I assure you I felt very 
grateful for the friendly tenor of it, and hope my 
silence will have been considered, as it was truly 
meant, to proceed only from an unwillingness to tax 
your time with idle thanks. Under every interesting 
circumstance which your own talents and literary 
labours have placed you in, or the favour of the 
Regent bestowed, you have my best wishes. Your 
recent appointments I hope are a step to something 
still better. In my opinion, the service of a court 
can hardly be too well paid, for immense must be the 
sacrifice of time and feeling required by it 

' You are very kind in your hints as to the sort of 
composition which might recommend me at present, 
and I am fully sensible that an historical romance, 
founded on the House of Saxe Cobourg, might be 
much more to the purpose of profit or popularity 
than such pictures of domestic life in country villages 

Jane Atisten. 117 

as I deal in. But I could no more write a romance 
than an epic poem. I could not sit seriously down 
to write a serious romance under any other motive 
than to save my life ; and if it were indispensable for 
me to keep it up and never relax into laughing at 
myself or at other people, I am sure I should be 
hung before I had finished the first chapter. No, 
I must keep to my own style and go on in my own 
way ; and though I may never succeed again in that, 
I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other. 
' I remain, my dear Sir, 
'Your very much obliged, and sincere friend, 

1 J. Austen. 

4 Chawton, near Alton, April 1, 181 6.' 

Mr. Clarke should have recollected the warning of 
the wise man, 'Force not the course of the river/ 
If you divert it from the channel in which nature 
taught it to flow, and force it into one arbitrarily cut 
by yourself, you will lose its grace and beauty. 

But when his free course is not hindered, 

He makes sweet music with the enamelled stones, 

Giving a gentle kiss to every sedge 

He overtaketh in his pilgrimage : 

And so by many winding nooks he strays 

With willing sport. 

All writers of fiction, who have genius strong 
enough to work out a course of their own, resist every 
attempt to interfere with its direction. No two 
writers could be more unlike each other than Jane 
Austen and Charlotte Bronte ; so much so that the 
latter was unable to understand why the former was 

1 1 8 A Memoir of 

admired, and confessed that she herself ' should hardly 
like to live with her ladies and gentlemen, in their 
elegant but confined houses ; ' but each writer equally 
resisted interference with her own natural style of 
composition. Miss Bronte, in reply to a friendly 
critic, who had warned her against being too melo- 
dramatic, and had ventured to propose Miss Austen's 
works to her as a study, writes thus : — 

1 Whenever I do write another book, I think I will 
have nothing of what you call " melodrama." I think 
so, but I am not sure. I think, too, I will endeavour 
to follow the counsel which shines out of Miss Aus- 
ten's " mild eyes," to finish more, and be more sub- 
dued ; but neither am I sure of that. When authors 
write best, or, at least, when they write most fluently, 
an influence seems to waken in them which becomes 
their master — which will have its way — putting out 
of view all behests but its own, dictating certain 
words, and insisting on their being used, whether 
vehement or measured in their nature, new moulding 
characters, giving unthought of turns to incidents, 
rejecting carefully elaborated old ideas, and suddenly 
creating and adopting new ones. Is it not so ? And 
should we try to counteract this influence ? Can we 
indeed counteract it ?' * 

The playful raillery with which the one parries an 
attack on her liberty, and the vehement eloquence of 
the other in pleading the same cause and maintaining 
the independence of genius, are very characteristic of 
the minds of the respective writers. 

* Mrs. Gaskell's * Life of Miss Bronte,' vol. ii. p. 53. 

Jane Austen. 119 

The suggestions which Jane received as to the sort 
of story that she ought to write were, however, an 
amusement to her, though they were not likely to 
prove useful ; and she has left amongst her papers 
one entitled, ' Plan of a novel according to hints from 
various quarters/ The names of some of those ad- 
visers are written on the margin of the manuscript 
opposite to their respective suggestions. 

c Heroine to be the daughter of a clergyman, who 
after having lived much in the world had retired from 
it, and settled on a curacy with a very small fortune 
of his own. The most excellent man that can be 
imagined, perfect in character, temper, and manner, 
without the smallest drawback or peculiarity to pre- 
vent his being the most delightful companion to his 
daughter from one year's end to the other. Heroine 
faultless in character, beautiful in person, and pos- 
sessing every possible accomplishment. Book to open 
with father and daughter conversing in long speeches, 
elegant language, and a tone of high serious senti- 
ment. The father induced, at his daughter's earnest 
request, to relate to her the past events of his life. 
Narrative to reach through the greater part of the 
first volume ; as besides all the circumstances of his 
attachment to her mother, and their marriage, it will 
comprehend his going to sea as chaplain to a distin- 
guished naval character about the court ; and his 
going afterwards to court himself, which involved him 
in many interesting situations, concluding with his 
opinion of the benefits of tithes being done away with. 
. . . From this outset the story will proceed, and con- 

120 A Memoir of 

tain a striking variety of adventures. Father an ex- 
emplary parish priest, and devoted to literature ; but 
heroine and father never above a fortnight in one 
place : he being driven from his curacy by the vile 
arts of some totally unprincipled and heartless young 
man, desperately in love with the heroine, and pur- 
suing her with unrelenting passion. No sooner set- 
tled in one country of Europe, than they are compelled 
to quit it, and retire to another, always making new 
acquaintance, and always obliged to leave them. This 
will of course exhibit a wide variety of character. 
The scene will be for ever shifting from one set of 
people to another, but there will be no mixture, all 
the good will be unexceptionable in every respect. 
There will be no foibles or weaknesses but with the 
wicked, who will be completely depraved and in- 
famous, hardly a resemblance of humanity left in 
them. Early in her career, the heroine must meet 
with the hero : all perfection, of course, and only pre- 
vented from paying his addresses to her by some 
excess of refinement. Wherever she goes, somebody 
falls in love with her, and she receives repeated offers 
of marriage, which she refers wholly to her father, 
exceedingly angry that he should not be the first 
applied to. Often carried away by the anti-hero, but 
rescued either by her father or the hero. Often re- 
duced to support herself and her father by her talents, 
and work for her bread ; continually cheated, and 
defrauded of her hire ; worn down to a skeleton, and 
now and then starved to death. At last, hunted out 
of civilised society, denied the poor shelter of the 

Jane Atisten. 121 

humblest cottage, they are compelled to retreat into 
Kamtschatka, where the poor father quite worn down, 
finding his end approaching, throws himself on the 
ground, and after four or five hours of tender advice 
and parental admonition to his miserable child, ex- 
pires in a fine burst of literary enthusiasm, inter- 
mingled with invectives against the holders of tithes. 
Heroine inconsolable for some time, but afterwards 
crawls back towards her former country, having at 
least twenty narrow escapes of falling into the hands 
of anti-hero ; and at last, in the very nick of time, 
turning a corner to avoid him, runs into the arms of 
the hero himself, who, having just shaken off the 
scruples which fettered him before, was at the very 
moment setting off in pursuit of her. The tenderest 
and completest eclaircissement takes place, and they 
are happily united. Throughout the whole work 
heroine to be in the most elegant society, and living 
in high style/ 

Since the first publication of this memoir, Mr. 
Murray of Albemarle Street has very kindly sent to 
me copies of the following letters, which his father 
received from Jane Austen, when engaged in the 
publication of ' Emma.' The increasing cordiality of 
the letters shows that the author felt that her inte- 
rests were duly cared for, and was glad to find herself 
in the hands of a publisher whom she could consider 
as a friend. 

Her brother had addressed to Mr. Murray a strong 
complaint of the tardiness of a printer : — 

122 A Memoir of 

'23 Hans Place, Thursday, November 23 (1815). 

' SIR, — My brother's note last Monday has been so- 
fruitless, that I am afraid there can be but little 
chance of my writing to any good effect ; but yet I 
am so very much disappointed and vexed by the 
delays of the printers, that I cannot help begging to 
know whether there is no hope of their being quick- 
ened. Instead of the work being ready by the end 
of the present month, it will hardly, at the rate we 
now proceed, be finished by the end of the next ; and 
as I expect to leave London early in December, it is 
of consequence that no more time should be lost. Is 
it likely that the printers will be influenced to greater 
dispatch and punctuality by knowing that the work 
is to be dedicated, by permission, to the Prince 
Regent ? If you can make that circumstance operate, 
I shall be very glad. My brother returns ( Waterloo' 
with many thanks for the loan of it. We have heard 
much of Scott's account of Paris.* If it be not 
incompatible with other arrangements, would you 
favour us with it, supposing you have any set already 
opened ? You may depend upon its being in careful 

1 1 remain, Sir, your ob*' humble Se tm 

'J. Austen.' 

' Hans Place, December 11 (181 5). 

'DEAR SIR, — As I find that "Emma" is advertised 
for publication as early as Saturday next, I think it 
best to lose no time in settling all that remains to be 

* This must have been l Paul's Letters to his Kinsfolk.' 

Jane A us ten. 125 

settled on the subject, and adopt this method as in- 
volving the smallest tax on your time. 

' In the first place, I beg you to understand that I 
leave the terms on which the trade should be sup- 
plied with the work entirely to your judgment, en- 
treating you to be guided in every such arrangement 
by your own experience of what is most likely to 
clear off the edition rapidly. I shall be satisfied 
with whatever you feel to be best. The title-page 
must be "Emma, dedicated by permission to H.R.H. 
the Prince Regent." And it is my particular wish that 
one set should be completed and sent to H.R.H. two 
or three days before the work is generally public. It 
should be sent under cover to the Rev. J. S. Clarke, 
Librarian, Carlton House. I shall subjoin a list of 
those persons to whom I must trouble you to forward 
also a set each, when the work is out ; all unbound, 
with " From the Authoress " in the first page. 

' I return you, with very many thanks, the books 
you have so obligingly supplied me with. I am very 
sensible, I assure you, of the attention you have paid 
to my convenience and amusement. I return also 
" Mansfield Park," as ready for a second edition, I 
believe, as I can make it I am in Hans Place till 
the 16th. From that day inclusive, my direction will 
be Chawton, Alton, Hants. 

' I remain, dear Sir, 

' Y r faithful humb. Serv*' 

*J. Austen. 

* I wish you would have the goodness to send a line 

124 A Memoir of 

by the bearer, stating the day on which the set will be 
ready for the Prince Regent.' 

* Hans Place, December n (1815). 
' DEAR SIR, — I am much obliged by yours, and 
very happy to feel everything arranged to our mutual 
satisfaction. As to my direction about the title-page, 
it was arising from my ignorance only, and from my 
having never noticed the proper place for a dedication. 
I thank you for putting me right. Any deviation 
from what is usually done in such cases is the last 
thing I should wish for. I feel happy in having a 
friend to save me from the ill effect of my own 

'Yours, dear Sir, &c. 

<J. Austen.' 

'Chawton, April I, 181 6. 

'Dear Sir, — I return you the "Quarterly Review" 
with many thanks. The Authoress of " Emma " has 
no reason, I think, to complain of her treatment in it, 
except in the total omission of " Mansfield Park." I 
cannot but be sorry that so clever a man as the 
Reviewer of "Emma" should consider it as unworthy 
of being noticed. You will be pleased to hear that I 
have received the Prince's thanks for the handsome 
copy I sent him of " Emma." Whatever he may think 
of my share of the work, yours seems to have been 
quite right. 

'In consequence of the late event in Henrietta 
Street, I must request that if you should at any time 

Jane Austen. 125 

have anything to communicate by letter, you will be 
so good as to write by the post, directing to me (Miss 
J. Austen), Chawton, near Alton ; and that for any- 
thing of a larger bulk, you will add to the same 
direction, by Collier's Southampton coach. 
1 1 remain, dear Sir, 

' Yours very faithfully, 

' J. Austen/ 

About the same time the following letters passed 
between the Countess of Morley and the writer of 
' Emma/ I do not know whether they were personally 
acquainted with each other, nor in what this inter- 
change of civilities originated : — 

The Countess of Morley to Miss J. Austen. 

' Saltram, December 27 (1815). 

6 MADAM, — I have been most anxiously waiting for 
an introduction to "Emma," and am infinitely obliged 
to you for your kind recollection of me, which will 
procure me the pleasure of her acquaintance some 
days sooner than I should otherwise have had it. I 
am already become intimate with the Woodhouse 
family, and feel that they will not amuse and interest 
me less than the Bennetts, Bertrams, Norrises, and 
all their admirable predecessors. I can give them no 
higher praise. 

' I am, Madam, your much obliged 

1 F. Morley/ 

126 A Memoir of 

Miss y. Austen to the Countess of M or ley. 

'Madam, — Accept my thanks for the honour of 
your note, and for your kind disposition in favour of 
" Emma." In my present state of doubt as to her re- 
ception in the world, it is particularly gratifying to 
me to receive so early an assurance of your Lady- 
ship's approbation. It encourages me to depend on the 
same share of general good opinion which " Emma's " 
predecessors have experienced, and to believe that I 
have not yet, as almost every writer of fancy does 
sooner or later, overwritten myself. 
' I am, Madam, 
' Your obliged and faithful Serv** 

' J. Austen. 

* December 31, 1 815.* 

Jane Austen. 127 


Slow growth of her fame — III success of first attempts at publication — 
Two Reviews of her works contrasted. 

SELDOM has any literary reputation been of such 
slow growth as that of Jane Austen. Readers of the 
present day know the rank that is generally assigned 
to her. They have been told by Archbishop Whately, 
in his review of her works, and by Lord Macaulay, in 
his review of Madame D'Arblay's, the reason why 
the highest place is to be awarded to Jane Austen, as 
a truthful drawer of character, and why she is to be 
classed with those who have approached nearest, in 
that respect, to the great master Shakspeare. They 
see her safely placed, by such authorities, in her niche, 
not indeed amongst the highest orders of genius, but 
in one confessedly her own, in our British temple of 
literary fame ; and it may be difficult to make them 
believe how coldly her works were at first received, 
and how few readers had any appreciation of their 
peculiar merits. Sometimes a friend or neighbour, 
who chanced to know of our connection with the 
author, would condescend to speak with moderate 
approbation of ' Sense and Sensibility,' or r Pride and 
Prejudice ' ; but if they had known that we, in our 
secret thoughts, classed her with Madame D'Arblay 


128 A Memoir of 

or Miss Edgeworth, or even with some other novel 
writers of the day whose names are now scarcely 
remembered, they would have considered it an 
amusing instance of family conceit. To the multi- 
tude her works appeared tame and commonplace,* 
poor in colouring, and sadly deficient in incident and 
interest. It is true that we were sometimes cheered 
by hearing that a different verdict had been pro- 
nounced by more competent judges : we were told 
how some great statesman or distinguished poet held 
these works in high estimation ; we had the satisfac- 
tion of believing that they were most admired by the 
best judges, and comforted ourselves with Horace's 
* satis est Equitem mihi plaudere.' So much was this 
the case, that one of the ablest men of my acquaint- 
ance f said, in that kind of jest which has much 
earnest in it, that he had established it in his own 
mind, as a new test of ability, whether people could 
or could not appreciate Miss Austen's merits. 

But though such golden opinions were now and 
then gathered in, yet the wide field of public taste 

* A greater genius than my aunt shared with her the imputation of 
being commonplace. Lockhart, speaking of the low estimation in which 
Scott's conversational powers were held in the literary and scientific 
society of Edinburgh, says : ' I think the epithet most in vogue con- 
cerning it was " commonplace." ' He adds, however, that one of the 
most eminent of that society was of a different opinion, 'who, when 
some glib youth chanced to echo in his hearing the consolatory tenet of 
local mediocrity, answered quietly, * ' I have the misfortune to think 
differently from you — in my humble opinion Walter Scott's sense is a 
still more wonderful thing than his genius." ' — Lockhart's Life of Scott, 
vol. iv. chap. v. 

t The late Mr. R. H. Cheney. 

Jane A usten. 1 29 

yielded no adequate return either in praise or profit. 
Her reward was not to be the quick return of the 
cornfield, but the slow growth of the tree which is to 
endure to another generation. Her first attempts at 
publication were very discouraging. In November, 
1797, her father wrote the following letter to Mr. 
Cadell :— 

' Sir, — I have in my possession a manuscript novel, 
comprising 3 vols., about the length of Miss Burney's 
" Evelina." As I am well aware of what consequence 
it is that a work of this sort sh d make its first appear- 
ance under a respectable name, I apply to you. I 
shall be much obliged therefore if you will inform me 
whether you choose to be concerned in it, what will 
be the expense of publishing it at the author's risk, 
and what you will venture to advance for the property 
of it, if on perusal it is approved of. Should you 
give any encouragement, I will send you the work. 
i I am, Sir, your humble Servant, 

' George Austen/ 

' Steventon, near Overton, Hants, 
' 1st Nov. 1797.' 

This proposal was declined by return of post ! The 
work thus summarily rejected must have been 'Pride 
and Prejudice/ 

The fate of ' Northanger Abbey ' was still more 
humiliating. It was sold, in 1803, to a publisher in 
Bath, for ten pounds, but it found so little favour in 
his eyes, that he chose to abide by his first loss rather 


130 A Memoir of 

than risk farther expense by publishing such a work. 
It seems to have lain for many years unnoticed in his 
drawers ; somewhat as the first chapters of 'Waverley' 
lurked forgotten amongst the old fishing-tackle in 
Scott's cabinet. Tilneys, Thorpes, and Morlands 
consigned apparently to eternal oblivion ! But 
when four novels of steadily increasing success had 
given the writer some confidence in herself, she 
wished to recover the copyright of this early work. 
One of her brothers undertook the negotiation. He 
found the purchaser very willing to receive back his 
money, and to resign all claim to the copyright. 
When the bargain was concluded and the money 
paid, but not till then, the negotiator had the satis- 
faction of informing him that the work which had 
been so lightly esteemed was by the author of ' Pride 
and Prejudice/ I do not think that she was herself 
much mortified by the want of early success. She 
wrote for her own amusement. Money, though ac- 
ceptable, was not necessary for the moderate expenses 
of her quiet home. Above all, she was blessed with 
a cheerful contented disposition, and an humble mind ; 
and so lowly did she esteem her own claims, that 
when she received 150/. from the sale of i Sense and 
Sensibility/ she considered it a prodigious recompense 
for that which had cost her nothing. It cannot be 
supposed, however, that she was altogether insensible 
to the superiority of her own workmanship over that 
of some contemporaries who were then enjoying a 
brief popularity. Indeed a few touches in the follow- 
ing extracts from two of her letters show that she 

Jane Austen. 131 

was as quicksighted to absurdities in composition as 
to those in living persons. 

1 Mr. C.'s opinion is gone down in my list ; but as 
my paper relates only to il Mansfield Park," I may 
fortunately excuse myself from entering Mr. D.'s. I 
will redeem my credit with him by writing a close 
imitation of " Self-Control," as soon as I can. I will 
improve upon it. My heroine shall not only be wafted 
down an American river in a boat by herself. She 
shall cross the Atlantic in the same way ; and never 
stop till she reaches Gravesend.' 

' We have got " Rosanne " in our Society, and find 
it much as you describe it ; very good and clever, but 
tedious. Mrs. Hawkins' great excellence is on serious 
subjects. There are some very delightful conver- 
sations and reflections on religion : but on lighter 
topics I think she falls into many absurdities ; and, 
as to love, her heroine has very comical feelings. 
There are a thousand improbabilities in the story. 
Do you remember the two Miss Ormsdens introduced 
just at last ? Very flat and unnatural. Mad eUe * 
Cossart is rather my passion.' 

Two notices of her works appeared in the ' Quarterly 
Review.' One in October 1815, and another, more 
than three years after her death, in January 182 1. 
The latter article is known to have been from the 
pen of Whately, afterwards Archbishop of Dublin* 

* Lockhart had supposed that this article had been written by Scott, 
because it exactly accorded with the opinions which Scott had often 
been heard to express, but he learned afterwards that it had been written 
by "Whately j and Lockhart, who became the Editor of the Quarterly, 

K 2 

132 A Memoir of 

They differ much from each other in the degree of 
praise which they award, and I think also it may be 
said, in the ability with which they are written. 
The first bestows some approval, but the other ex- 
presses the warmest admiration. One can scarcely 
be satisfied with the critical acumen of the former 
writer, who, in treating of ' Sense and Sensibility/ 
takes no notice whatever of the vigour with which 
many of the characters are drawn, but declares that 
* the interest and merit of the piece depends altogether 
upon the behaviour of the elder sister ! ' Nor is he 
fair when, in ' Pride and Prejudice/ he represents 
Elizabeth's change of sentiments towards Darcy as 
caused by the sight of his house and grounds. But 
the chief discrepancy between the two reviewers is 
to be found in their appreciation of the common- 
place and silly characters to be found in these novels. 
On this point the difference almost amounts to a 
contradiction, such as one sometimes sees drawn up 
in parallel columns, when it is desired to convict 
some writer or some statesman of inconsistency. 
The Reviewer, in 18 1 5, says: 'The faults of these 
works arise from the minute detail which the author's 
plan comprehends. Characters of folly or simplicity, 
such as those of old Woodhouse and Miss Bates, 
are ridiculous when first presented, but if too often 
brought forward, or too long dwelt on, their prosing 

must have had the means of knowing the truth. (See Lockhart's Life 
of Sir Walter Scott, vol. v. p. 158.) I remember that, at the time when 
the review came out, it was reported in Oxford that Whately had written 
the article at the request of the lady whom he afterwards married. 

Jane Austen. 133 

is apt to become as tiresome in fiction as in real 
society/ The Reviewer, in 1 821, on the contrary, 
singles out the fools as especial instances of the 
writer's abilities, and declares that in this respect she 
shows a regard to character hardly exceeded by 
Shakspeare himself. These are his words : ( Like 
him (Shakspeare) she shows as admirable a discrimi- 
nation in the character of fools as of people of sense ; 
a merit which is far from common. To invent indeed 
a conversation full of wisdom or of wit requires that 
the writer should himself possess ability ; but the 
converse does not hold good, it is no fool that can 
describe fools well ; and many who have succeeded 
pretty well in painting superior characters have failed 
in giving individuality to those weaker ones which it 
is necessary to introduce in order to give a faithful 
representation of real life : they exhibit to us mere 
folly in the abstract, forgetting that to the eye of the 
skilful naturalist the insects on a leaf present as 
wide differences as exist between the lion and the 
elephant. Slender, and Shallow, and Aguecheek, as 
Shakspeare has painted them, though equally fools, 
resemble one another no more than Richard, and 
Macbeth, and Julius Caesar ; and Miss Austen's * 
Mrs. Bennet, Mr. Rushworth, and Miss Bates are no 
more alike than her Darcy, Knightley, and Edmund 
Bertram. Some have complained indeed of finding 
her fools too much like nature, and consequently 
tiresome. There is no disputing about tastes ; all we 

* In transcribing this passage I have taken the liberty so far to cor- 
rect it as to spell her name properly with an ' e. ' 

1 34 A Memoir of 

can say is, that such critics must (whatever deference 
they may outwardly pay to received opinions) find 
the " Merry Wives of Windsor " and " Twelfth Night" 
very tiresome ; and that those who look with pleasure 
at Wilkie's picture, or those of the Dutch school, 
must admit that excellence of imitation may confer 
attraction on that which would be insipid or disagree- 
able in the reality. Her minuteness of detail has 
also been found fault with ; but even where it pro- 
duces, at the time, a degree of tediousness, we know 
not whether that can justly be reckoned a blemish, 
which is absolutely essential to a very high excellence. 
Now it is absolutely impossible, without this, to pro- 
duce that thorough acquaintance with the characters 
which is necessary to make the reader heartily in- 
terested in them. Let any one cut out from the 
" Iliad " or from Shakspeare's plays everything (we 
are far from saying that either might not lose some 
parts with advantage, but let him reject everything) 
which is absolutely devoid of importance and interest 
in itself \ and he will find that what is left will have 
lost more than half its charms. We are convinced 
that some writers have diminished the effect of their 
works by being scrupulous to admit nothing into 
them which had not some absolute and independent 
merit. They have acted like those who strip off the 
leaves of a fruit tree, as being of themselves good for 
nothing, with the view of securing more nourishment 
to the fruit, which in fact cannot attain its full matu- 
rity and flavour without them.' 

The world, I think, has endorsed the opinion of 

Jane A listen. 135 

the later writer ; but it would not be fair to set down 
the discrepancy between the two entirely to the dis- 
credit of the former. The fact is that, in the course 
of the intervening faz years, these works had been 
read and reread by many leaders in the literary 
world. The public taste was forming itself all this 
time, and 'grew by what it fed on.' These novels 
belong to a class which gain rather than lose by fre- 
quent perusals, and it is probable that each Reviewer 
represented fairly enough the prevailing opinions of 
readers in the year when each wrote. 

Since that time, the testimonies in favour of Jane 
Austen's works have been continual and almost un- 
animous. They are frequently referred to as models ; 
nor have they lost their first distinction of being 
especially acceptable to minds of the highest order. 
I shall indulge myself by collecting into the next 
chapter instances of the homage paid to her by such 

136 A Memoir of 


Opinions expressed by eminent persons — Opinions of others of less 
eminence — Opinion of American readers. 

INTO this list of the admirers of my Aunt's works, I 
admit those only whose eminence will be universally 
acknowledged. No doubt the number might have 
been increased. 

Southey, in a letter to Sir Egerton Brydges, says : 
'You mention Miss Austen. Her novels are more 
true to nature, and have, for my sympathies, passages 
of finer feeling than any others of this age. She was 
a person of whom I have heard so well and think so 
highly, that I regret not having had an opportunity 
of testifying to her the respect which I felt for her.' 

It may be observed that Southey had probably 
heard from his own family connections of the charm of 
her private character. A friend of hers, the daughter 
of Mr. Bigge Wither, of Manydown Park near Basing- 
stoke, was married to S outh ey's- uncle, the Rev. Her- 
bert Hill, who had been useful to his nephew in many 
ways, and especially in supplying him with the means 
of attaining his extensive knowledge of Spanish and 
Portuguese literature. Mr. Hill had been Chaplain to 
the British Factory at Lisbon, where Southey visited 

Jane Austen. IZ7 

him and had the use of a library in those languages 
which his uncle had collected. Southey himself con- 
tinually mentions his uncle Hill in terms of respect 
and gratitude. 

S. T. Coleridge would sometimes burst out into high 
encomiums of Miss Austen's novels as being, ' in their 
way, perfectly genuine and individual productions/ 

I remember Miss Mitford's saying to me : ' I would 
almost cut off one of my hands, if it would enable me 
to write like your aunt with the other.' 

The biographer of Sir J. Mackintosh says : 'Some- 
thing recalled to his mind the traits of character which 
are so delicately touched in Miss Austen's novels. . . 
He said that there was genius in sketching out that 
new kind of novel. . . He was vexed for the credit of 
the "Edinburgh Review" that it had left her un- 
noticed.* . . The "Quarterly" had done her more 
justice. . . It was impossible for a foreigner to under- 
stand fully the merit of her works. Madame de Stael, 
to whom he had recommended one of her novels, found 
no interest in it ; and in her note to him in reply said 
it was " vulgaire " : and yet, he said, nothing could be 
more true than what he wrote in answer : " There is 
no book which that word would so little suit." . . . 
Every village could furnish matter for a novel to Miss 
Austen. She did not need the common materials for 
a novel, strong emotions, or strong incidents.* f 

It was not, however, quite impossible for a foreigner 

* Incidentally she had received high praise in Lord Macaulay's 
Review of Madame D'Arblay's Works in the * Edinburgh. ' 
+ Life of Sir J. Mackintosh, vol. ii. p. 472. 

138 A Memoir of 

to appreciate these works ; for Mons. Guizot writes 
thus : ' I am a great novel reader, but I seldom read 
German or French novels. The characters are too 
artificial. My delight is to read English novels, par- 
ticularly those written by women. " C'est toute une 
ecole de morale." Miss Austen, Miss Ferrier, &c, 
form a school which in the excellence and profusion 
of its productions resembles the cloud of dramatic 
poets of the great Athenian age.* 

In the 'Keepsake' of 1825 the following lines ap- 
peared, written by Lord Morpeth, afterwards seventh 
Earl of Carlisle, and Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, 
accompanying an illustration of a lady reading a 

Beats thy quick pulse o'er Inchbald's thrilling leaf, 

Brunton's high moral, Opie's deep wrought grief? 

Has the mild chaperon claimed thy yielding heart, 

Carroll's dark page, Trevelyan's gentle art ? 

Or is it thou, all perfect Austen ? Here 

Let one poor wreath adorn thy early bier, 

That scarce allowed thy modest youth to claim 

Its living portion of thy certain fame ! 

Oh ! Mrs. Bennet ! Mrs. Norris too ! 

While memory survives we'll dream of you. 

And Mr. Woodhouse, whose abstemious lip 

Must thin, but not too thin, his gruel sip. 

Miss Bates, our idol, though the village bore ; 

And Mrs. Elton, ardent to explore. 

"While the dear style flows on without pretence, 

"With unstained purity, and nnmatched sense : s 

Or, if a sister e'er approached the throne, 

She called the rich ' inheritance ' her own. 

The admiration felt by Lord Macaulay would 
probably have taken a very practical form, if his life 

J a?ie Austen. 139 

had been prolonged. I have the authority of his 
sister, Lady Trevelyan, for stating that he had in- 
tended to undertake the task upon which I have 
ventured. He purposed to write a memoir of Miss 
Austen, with criticisms on her works, to prefix it to a 
new edition of her novels, and from the proceeds of 
the sale to erect a monument to her memory in 
Winchester Cathedral. Oh! that such an idea had 
been realised ! That portion of the plan in which 
Lord Macaulay's success would have been most certain 
might have been almost sufficient for his object. A 
memoir written by him would have been a monument. 

I am kindly permitted by Sir Henry Holland to 
give the following quotation from his printed but 
unpublished recollections of his past life : — 

' I have the picture still before me of Lord Holland 
lying on his bed, when attacked with gout, his ad- 
mirable sister, Miss Fox, beside him reading aloud, as 
she always did on these occasions, some one of Miss 
Austen's novels, of which he was never wearied. I 
well recollect the time when these charming novels, 
almost unique in their style of humour, burst suddenly 
on the world. It was sad that their writer did not 
live to witness the growth of her fame.' 

My brother-in-law, Sir Denis Le Marchant, has 
supplied me with the following anecdotes from his 
own recollections: — 

'When I was a student at Trinity College, Cam- 
bridge, Mr. Whewell, then a Fellow and afterwards 
Master of the College, often spoke to me with ad- 

140 A Memoir of 

miration of Miss Austen's novels. On one occasion 
I said that I had found " Persuasion " rather dull. 
He quite fired up in defence of it, insisting that it was 
the most beautiful of her works. This accomplished 
philosopher was deeply versed in works of fiction. I 
recollect his writing to me from Caernarvon, where he 
had the charge of some pupils, that he was weary of 
his stay, for he had read the circulating library twice 

'During a visit I paid to Lord Lansdowne, at 
Bowood, in 1846, one of Miss Austen's novels became 
the subject of conversation and of praise, especially 
from Lord Lansdowne, who observed that one of the 
circumstances of his life which he looked back upon 
with vexation was that Miss Austen should once have 
been living some weeks in his neighbourhood without 
his knowing it. 

' I have heard Sydney Smith, more than once, dwell 
with eloquence on the merits of Miss Austen's novels. 
He told me he should have enjoyed giving her the 
pleasure of reading her praises in the "Edinburgh 
Review." " Fanny Price " was one of his prime 

I close this list of testimonies, this long 'Catena 
Patrum,' with the remarkable words of Sir Walter 
Scott, taken from his diary for March 14, 1826:* 
' Read again, for the third time at least, Miss Austen's 
finely written novel of "Pride and Prejudice." That 
young lady had a talent for describing the involve- 
ments and feelings and characters of ordinary life, 

* Lockhart's Life of Scott, vol. vi. chap. vii. 

Jane A usten. 1 4 r 

which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. 
The big Bow- Wow strain I can do myself like any 
now going; but the exquisite touch which renders 
ordinary common-place things and characters in- 
teresting from the truth of the description and the 
sentiment is denied to me. What a pity such a 
gifted creature died so early ! ' The well-worn con- 
dition of Scott's own copy of these works attests that 
they were much read in his family. When I visited 
Abbotsford, a few years after Scott's death, I was 
permitted, as an unusual favour, to take one of these 
volumes in my hands. One cannot suppress the wish 
that she had lived to know what such men thought 
of her powers, and how gladly they would have 
cultivated a personal acquaintance with her. I do 
not think that it would at all have impaired the 
modest simplicity of her character ; or that we should 
have lost our own dear ' Aunt Jane ' in the blaze of 
literary fame. 

It may be amusing to contrast with these testi- 
monies from the great, the opinions expressed by 
other readers of more ordinary intellect. The author 
herself has left a list of criticisms which it had been 
her amusement to collect, through means of her 
friends. This list contains much of warm-hearted 
sympathising praise, interspersed with some opinions 
which may be considered surprising. 

One lady could say nothing better of ' Mansfield 
Park/ than that it was e a mere novel.' 

Another owned that she thought ' Sense and Sensi- 
bility ' and ' Pride and Prejudice ' downright non- 

142 A Memoir of 

sense ; but expected to like ' Mansfield Park ' better, 
and having finished the first volume, hoped that she 
had got through the worst. 

Another did not like 'Mansfield Park.' Nothing 
interesting in the characters. Language poor. 

One gentleman read the first and last chapters of 
' Emma/ but did not look at the rest, because he had 
been told that it was not interesting. 

The opinions of another gentleman about ' Emma ' 
were so bad that they could not be reported to the 

' Quot homines, tot sentential 

Thirty-five years after her death there came also a 
voice of praise from across the Atlantic. In 1852 
the following letter was received by her brother Sir 
Francis Austen : — 

* Boston, Massachusetts, U. S. A. 
6th Jan. 1852. 

* Since high critical authority has pronounced the 
delineations of character in the works of Jane Austen 
second only to those of Shakspeare, transatlantic 
admiration appears superfluous ; yet it may not be 
uninteresting to her family to receive an assurance 
that the influence of her genius is extensively recog- 
nised in the American Republic, even by the highest 
judicial authorities. The late Mr. Chief Justice Mar- 
shall, of the supreme Court of the United States, and 
his associate Mr. Justice Story, highly estimated and 
admired Miss Austen, and to them we owe our intro- 
duction to her society. For many years her talents 
have brightened our daily path, and her name and 

Jane Austen. 143 

those of her characters are familiar to us as " house- 
hold words." We have long wished to express to 
some of her family the sentiments of gratitude and 
affection she has inspired, and request more infor- 
mation relative to her life than is given in the brief 
memoir prefixed to her works. 

' Having accidentally heard that a brother of Jane 
Austen held a high rank in the British Navy, we 
have obtained his address from our friend Admiral 
Wormley, now resident in Boston, and we trust this 
expression of our feeling will be received by her 
relations with the kindness and urbanity characte- 
ristic of Admirals of her creation. Sir Francis Austen, 
or one of his family, would confer a great favour by 
complying with our request. The autograph of his 
sister, or a few lines in her handwriting, would be 
placed among our chief treasures. 

1 The family who delight in the companionship of 
Jane Austen, and who present this petition, are of 
English origin. Their ancestor held a high rank 
among the first emigrants to New England, and 
his name and character have been ably represented 
by his descendants in various public stations of trust 
and responsibility to the present time in the colony 
and state of Massachusetts. A letter addressed to 
Miss Quincey, care of the Hon ble Josiah Ouincey, 
Boston, Massachusetts, would reach its destination.' 

Sir Francis Austen returned a suitable reply to 
this application ; and sent a long letter of his sister's, 
which, no doubt, still occupies the place of honour 
promised by the Ouincey family. 

144 -A Memoir of 


Observations on the Novels, 

It is not the object of these memoirs to attempt a 
criticism on Jane Austen's novels. Those particulars 
only have been noticed which could be illustrated by 
the circumstances of her own life ; but I now desire to 
offer a few observations on them, and especially on 
one point, on which my age renders me a competent 
witness — the fidelity with which they represent the 
opinions and manners of the class of society in which 
the author lived early in this century. They do this 
the more faithfully on account of the very deficiency 
with which they have been sometimes charged — 
namely, that they make no attempt to raise the 
standard of human life, but merely represent it as it 
was. They certainly were not written to support any 
theory or inculcate any particular moral, except in- 
deed the great moral which is to be equally gathered 
from an observation of the course of actual life — 
namely, the superiority of high over low principles, 
and of greatness over littleness of mind. These 
writings are like photographs, in which no feature is 
softened ; no ideal expression is introduced, all is the 
unadorned reflection of the natural object ; and the 

Jane Austen. 145 

value of such a faithful likeness must increase as 
time gradually works more and more changes in the 
face of society itself. A remarkable instance of this 
is to be found in her portraiture of the clergy. She 
was the daughter and the sister of clergymen, who 
certainly were not low specimens of their order : and 
she has chosen three of her heroes from that pro- 
fession ; but no one in these days can think that 
either Edmund Bertram or Henry Tilney had ade- 
quate ideas of the duties of a parish minister. Such, 
however, were the opinions and practice then pre- 
valent among respectable and conscientious clergy- 
men before their minds had been stirred, first by the 
Evangelical, and afterwards by the High Church 
movement which this century has witnessed. The 
country may be congratulated which, on looking 
back to such a fixed landmark, can find that it has 
been advancing instead of receding from it. 

The long interval that elapsed between the com- 
pletion of f Northanger Abbey ' in 1 798, and the 
commencement of ' Mansfield Park' in 181 1, may 
sufficiently account for any difference of style which 
may be perceived between her three earlier and her 
three later productions. If the former showed quite 
as much originality and genius, they may perhaps be 
thought to have less of the faultless finish and high 
polish which distinguish the latter. The characters 
of the John Dashwoods, Mr. Collins, and the Thorpes 
stand out from the canvas with a vigour and origi- 
nality which cannot be surpassed ; but I think that 
in her last three works are to be found a greater 


146 A Memoir of 

refinement of taste, a more nice sense of propriety, 
and a deeper insight into the delicate anatomy of 
the human heart, marking the difference between 
the brilliant girl and the mature woman. Far from 
being one of those who have over-written themselves, 
it may be affirmed that her fame would have stood 
on a narrower and less firm basis, if she had not lived 
to resume her pen at Chawton. 

Some persons have surmised that she took her 
characters from individuals with whom she had been 
acquainted. They were so life-like that it was as- 
sumed that they must once have lived, and have 
been transferred bodily, as it were, into her pages. 
But surely such a supposition betrays an ignorance 
of the high prerogative of genius to create out of its 
own resources imaginary characters, who shall be 
true to nature and consistent in themselves. Perhaps, 
however, the distinction between keeping true to 
nature and servilely copying any one specimen of it 
is not always clearly apprehended. It is indeed 
true, both of the writer and of the painter, that he 
can use only such lineaments as exist, and as he 
has observed to exist, in living objects ; otherwise he 
would produce monsters instead of human beings ; 
but in both it is the office of high art to mould these 
features into new combinations, and to place them in 
the attitudes, and impart to them the expressions 
which may suit the purposes of the artist ; so that 
they are nature, but not exactly the same nature 
which had come before his eyes ; just as honey can 
be obtained only from the natural flowers which the 

Jane Austen. 147 

bee has sucked ; yet it is not a reproduction of the 
odour or flavour of any particular flower, but becomes 
something different when it has gone through the 
process of transformation which that little insect is 
able to effect. Hence, in the case of painters, arises 
the superiority of original compositions over portrait 
painting. Reynolds was exercising a higher faculty 
when he designed Comedy and Tragedy contending 
for Garrick, than when he merely took a likeness of 
that actor. The same difference exists in writings 
between the original conceptions of Shakspeare and 
some other creative geniuses, and such full-length 
likenesses of individual persons, ' The Talking Gentle- 
man ' for instance, as are admirably drawn by Miss 
Mitford. Jane Austen's powers, whatever may be 
the degree in which she possessed them, were cer- 
tainly of that higher order. She did not copy 
individuals, but she invested her own creations 
with individuality of character. A reviewer in the 
' Quarterly' speaks of an acquaintance who 5 ever 
since the publication of ' Pride and Prejudice,' had 
been called by his friends Mr. Bennet, but the author 
did not know him. Her own relations never recog- 
nised any individual in her characters ; and I can 
call to mind several of her acquaintance whose pecu- 
liarities were very tempting and easy to be carica- 
tured of whom there are no traces in her pages. She 
herself, when questioned on the subject by a friend, 
expressed a dread of what she called such an ' inva- 
sion of social proprieties.' She said that she thought 
it quite fair to note peculiarities and weaknesses, but 

148 A Memoir of 

that it was her desire to create, not to reproduce ; 
' besides/ she added, ' I am too proud of my gentle- 
men to admit that they were only Mr. A. or Colonel 
B/ She did not, however, suppose that her imagi- 
nary characters were of a higher order than are to be 
found in nature ; for she said, when speaking of two 
of her great favourites, Edmund Bertram and Mr. 
Knightley : ' They are very far from being what I know 
English gentlemen often are/ 

She certainly took a kind of parental interest in 
the beings whom she had created, and did not dis- 
miss them from her thoughts when she had finished 
her last chapter. We have seen, in one of her letters, 
her personal affection for Darcy and Elizabeth ; and 
when sending a copy of ' Emma ' to a friend whose 
daughter had been lately born, she wrote thus : ' I 
trust you will be as glad to see my " Emma," as I 
shall be to see your Jemima.' She was very fond of 
'Emma, but did not reckon on her being a general 
favourite ; for, when commencing that work, she said, 
; I am going to take a heroine whom no one but 
myself will much like/ She would, if asked, tell us 
many little particulars about the subsequent career 
of some of her people. In this traditionary way we 
learned that Miss Steele never succeeded in catch- 
ing the Doctor ; that Kitty Bennet was satisfactorily 
married to a clergyman near Pemberley, while Mary 
obtained nothing higher than one of her uncle Philip's 
clerks, and was content to be considered a star in 
the society of Meriton ; that the ' considerable sum ' 
.given by Mrs. Norris to William Price was one 

tanc Austen. * 149 

pound ; that Mr. Woodhouse survived his daughter's 
marriage, and kept her and Mr. Knightley from 
settling at Donwell, about two years; and that the 
letters placed by Frank Churchill before Jane Fairfax, 
which she swept away unread, contained the word 
' pardon.' Of the good people in ' Northanger Abbey' 
and ' Persuasion ' we know nothing more than what is 
written : for before those works were published their 
author had been taken away from us, and all such 
amusing communications had ceased for ever. 

1 50" A Memoir of 


Declining health of Jane Austen — Elasticity of her spirits — Her 
?'esigiiation and humility — Her death. 

Early in the year 18 16 some family troubles dis- 
turbed the usually tranquil course of Jane Austen's 
life ; and it is probable that the inward malady, 
which was to prove ultimately fatal, was already felt 
by her ; for some distant friends,* whom she visited 
in the spring of that year, thought that her health 
was somewhat impaired, and observed that she went 
about her old haunts, and recalled old recollections 
connected with them in a particular manner, as if she 
did not expect ever to see them again. It is not 
surprising that, under these circumstances, some of 
her letters were of a graver tone than had been 
customary with her, and expressed resignation rather 
than cheerfulness. In reference to these troubles in 
a letter to her brother Charles, after mentioning that 
she had been laid up with an attack of bilious fever, 
she says : ' I live up stairs for the present and am 
coddled. I am the only one of the party who has 
been so silly, but a weak body must excuse weak 
nerves.' And again, to another correspondent : ' But 

* The Fowles, of Kintbury, in Berkshire. 

Jane A us ten. 1 5 1 

I am getting too near complaint ; it has been the 
appointment of God, however secondary causes may 
have operated.' But the elasticity of her spirits soon 
recovered their tone. It was in the latter half of that 
year that she addressed the two following lively 
letters to a nepliew, one while he was at Winchester 
School, the other soon after he had left it : — 

'Chawton, July 9, 1816. 

' My Dear E. — Many thanks. A thank for every 
line, and as many to Mr. W. Digweed for coming. 
We have been wanting very much to hear of your 
mother, and are happy to find she continues to mend, 
but her illness must have been a very serious one 
indeed. When she is really recovered, she ought to 
try change of air, and come over to us. Tell your 
father that I am very much obliged to him for his 
share of your letter, and most sincerely join in the 
hope of her being eventually much the better for her 
present discipline. She has the comfort moreover of 
being confined in such weather as gives one little 
temptation to be out. It is really too bad, and has 
been too bad for a long time, much worse than any 
one can bear, and I begin to think it will never be 
fine again. This is a finesse of mine, for I have often 
observed that if one writes about the weather, it is 
generally completely changed before the letter is 
read. I wish it may prove so now, and that when 
Mr. W. Digweed reaches Steventon to-morrow, he 
may find you have had a long series of hot dry 
weather. We are a small party at present, only 

152 A Memoir of 

grandmamma, Mary Jane, and myself. Yalden's 
coach cleared off the rest yesterday. I am glad you 
recollected to mention your being come home.* My 
heart began to sink within me when I had got so far 
through your letter without its being mentioned. I 
was dreadfully afraid that you might be detained at 
Winchester by severe illness, confined to your bed 
perhaps, and quite unable to hold a pen, and only 
dating from Steventon in order, with a mistaken sort 
of tenderness, to deceive me. But now I have no 
doubt of your being at home. I am sure you would 
not say it so seriously unless it actually were so. 
We saw a countless number of post-chaises full of 
boys pass by yesterday morning*)* — full of future 
heroes, legislators, fools, and villains. You have 
never thanked me for my last letter, which went by 
the cheese. I cannot bear not to be thanked. You 
will not pay us a visit yet of course ; we must not 
think of it. Your mother must get well first, and 
you must go to Oxford and not be elected ; after that 
a little change of scene may be good for you, and 
your physicians I hope will order you to the sea, or 
to a house by the side of a very considerable pond.J 
Oh ! it rains again. It beats against the window. 
Mary Jane and I have been wet through once already 

* It seems that her young correspondent, after dating from his home, 
had been so superfluous as to state in his letter that he was returned 
home, and thus to have drawn on himself this banter. 

+ The road by which many Winchester boys returned home ran close 
to Chawton Cottage. 

% There was, though it exists no longer, a pond close to Chawton 
Cottage, at the junction of the Winchester and Gosport roads. 

Jane A listen. 153 

to-day ; we set off in the donkey-carriage for Far- 
ringdon, as I wanted to see the improvement Mr. 
Woolls is making, but we were obliged to turn back 
before we got there, but not soon enough to avoid a 
pelter all the way home. We met Mr. Woolls. I 
talked of its being bad weather for the hay, and he 
returned me the comfort of its being much worse 
for the wheat. We hear that Mrs. S. does not quit 
Tangier : why and wherefore ? Do you know that 
our Browning is gone ? You must prepare for a 
William when you come, a good-looking lad, civil 
and quiet, and seeming likely to do. Good bye. I 
am sure Mr. W. D.* will be astonished at my writing 
so much, for the paper is so thin that he will be able 
to count the lines if not to read them. 
' Yours affec ,y , 

' Jane Austen.' 

In the next letter will be found her description of 
her own style of composition, which has already ap- 
peared in the notice prefixed to ' Northanger Abbey ' 
and f Persuasion ' : — 

'Chawton, Monday, Dec. 16th (1816). 

' My Dear E., — One reason for my writing to you 
now is, that I may have the pleasure of directing to 
you Esq re * I give you joy of having left Winchester. 
Now you may own how miserable you were there ; 
now it will gradually all come out, your crimes and 

* Mr. Digweed, who conveyed the letters to and from Chawton, 
was the gentleman named in page 21, as renting the old manor-house 
and the large farm at Steventon. 

1 54 A Memoir of 

your miseries — how often you went up by the Mail 
to London and threw away fifty guineas at a tavern, 
and how often you were on the point of hanging 
yourself, restrained only, as some ill-natured aspersion 
upon poor old Winton has it, by the want of a tree 
within some miles of the city. Charles Knight and 
his companions passed through Chawton about 9 
this morning ; later than it used to be. Uncle 
Henry and I had a glimpse of his handsome face, 
looking all health and good humour. I wonder 
when you will come and see us. I know what I 
rather speculate upon, but shall say nothing. We 
think uncle Henry in excellent looks. Look at him 
this moment, and think so too, if you have not done 
it before ; and we have the great comfort of seeing 
decided improvement in uncle Charles, both as to 
health, spirits, and appearance. And they are each 
of them so agreeable in their different way, and 
harmonise so well, that their visit is thorough enjoy- 
ment. Uncle Henry writes very superior sermons. 
You and I must try to get hold of one or two, and 
put them into our novels : it would be a fine help to 
a volume ; and we could make our heroine read it 
aloud on a Sunday evening, just as well as Isabella 
Wardour, in the "Antiquary," is made to read the 
" History of the Hartz Demon " in the ruins of St. 
Ruth, though I believe, on recollection, Loveli is the 
reader. By the bye, my dear K, I am quite con- 
cerned for the loss your mother mentions in her 
letter. Two chapters and a half to be missing is 
monstrous ! It is well that / have not been at 

Jane A usten. 155 

Steventon lately, and therefore cannot be suspected 
of purloining them : two strong twigs and a half 
towards a nest of my own would have been some- 
thing. I do not think, however, that any theft of that 
sort would be really very useful to me. What should 
I do with your strong, manly, vigorous sketches, full 
of variety and glow? How could I possibly join 
them on to the little bit (two inches wide) of ivory 
on which I work with so fine a brush, as produces 
little effect after much labour ? 

' You will hear from uncle Henry how well Anna 
is. She seems perfectly recovered. Ben was here on 
Saturday, to ask uncle Charles and me to dine with 
them, as to-morrow, but I was forced to decline it, 
the walk is beyond my strength (though I am other- 
wise very well), and this is not a season for donkey- 
carriages ; and as we do not like to spare uncle 
Charles, he has declined it too. Tuesday. Ah, ah ! 
Mr. E. I doubt your seeing uncle Henry at Steven- 
ton to-day. The weather will prevent your expecting 
him, I think. Tell your father, with aunt Cass's love 
and mine, that the pickled cucumbers are extremely 
good, and tell him also — "tell him what you will." 
No, don't tell him what you will, but tell him that 
grandmamma begs him to make Joseph Hall pay 
his rent, if he can. 

' You must not be tired of reading the word uncle, 
for I have not done with it Uncle Charles thanks 
your mother for her letter ; it was a great pleasure 
to him to know that the parcel was received and 
gave so much satisfaction, and he begs her to be so 

156 A Memoir of 

good as to give three shillings for him to Dame 
Staples, which shall be allowed for in the payment 
of her debt here. 

* Adieu, Amiable ! I hope Caroline behaves well 

to you. 

' Yours affec ly , 

' J. Austen.' 

I cannot tell how soon she was aware of the serious 
nature of her malady. By God's mercy it was not 
attended with much suffering ; so that she was able 
to tell her friends as in the foregoing letter, and 
perhaps sometimes to persuade herself that, except- 
ing want of strength, she was ' otherwise very well ;' 
but the progress of the disease became more and 
more manifest as the year advanced. The usual 
walk was at first shortened, and then discontinued ; 
and air was sought in a donkey-carriage. Gradually, 
too, her habits of activity within the house ceased, 
and she was obliged to lie down much. The sitting- 
room contained only one sofa, which was fre- 
quently occupied by her mother, who was more than 
seventy years old. Jane would never use it, even in 
her mother's absence ; but she contrived a sort of 
couch for herself with two or three chairs, and was 
pleased to say that this arrangement was more com- 
fortable to her than a real sofa. Her reasons for this 
might have been left to be guessed, but for the im- 
portunities of a little niece, which obliged her to 
explain that if she herself had shown any inclination 
to use the sofa, her mother might have scrupled 
being on it so much as was good for her. 

Jane Austen. 157 

It is certain, however, that the mind did not share 
in this decay of the bodily strength. ' Persuasion ' 
was not finished before the middle of August in that 
year; and the manner in which it was then com- 
pleted affords proof that neither the critical nor the 
creative powers of the author were at all impaired. 
The book had been brought to an end in July ; and 
the re-engagement of the hero and heroine effected 
in a totally different manner in a scene laid at Ad- 
miral Croft's lodgings. But her performance did not 
satisfy her. She thought it tame and flat, and was 
desirous of producing something better. This weighed 
upon her mind, the more so probably on account of 
the weak state of her health ; so that one night she 
retired to rest in very low spirits. But such depres- 
sion was little in accordance with her nature, and 
was soon shaken off. The next morning she awoke 
to more cheerful views and brighter inspirations : the 
sense of power revived ; and imagination resumed its 
course. She cancelled the condemned chapter, and 
wrote two others, entirely different, in its stead. The 
result is that we possess the visit of the Musgrove 
party to Bath ; the crowded and animated scenes at 
the White Hart Hotel ; and the charming conversa- 
tion between Capt. Harville and Anne Elliot, over- 
heard by Capt. Wentworth, by which the two faithful 
lovers were at last led to understand each other's 
feelings. The tenth and eleventh chapters of ' Per- 
suasion ' then, rather than the actual winding-up of the 
story, contain the latest of her printed compositions, 
her last contribution to the entertainment of the 

158 A Memoir of 

public. Perhaps it may be thought that she has 
seldom written anything more brilliant; and that, 
independent of the original manner in which the 
denouement is brought about, the pictures of Charles 
Musgrove's goodnatured boyishness and of his wife's 
jealous selfishness would have been incomplete without 
these finishing strokes. The cancelled chapter exists 
in manuscript. It is certainly inferior to the two 
which were substituted for it : but it was such as 
some writers and some readers might have been con- 
tented with ; and it contained touches which scarcely 
any other hand could have given, the suppression of 
which may be almost a matter of regret* 

The following letter was addressed to her friend 
Miss Bigg, then staying at Streatham with her 
sister, the wife of the Reverend Herbert Hill, uncle 
of Robert Southey. It appears to have been written 
three days before she began her last work, which will 
be noticed in another chapter ; and shows that she 
was not at that time aware of the serious nature of 
her malady : — 

' Chawton, January 24, 181 7. 

' My DEAR ALETHEA, — I think it time there 
should be a little writing between us, though I be- 
lieve the epistolary debt is on yotcr side, and I hope 
this will find all the Streatham party well, neither 
carried away by the flood, nor rheumatic through 
the damps. Such mild weather is, you know, de- 

* This cancelled chapter is now printed, in compliance with the 
requests addressed to me from several quarters. 

Jane A usteii. 159 

lightful to us, and though we have a great many 
ponds, and a fine running stream through the mea- 
dows on the other side of the road, it is nothing but 
what beautifies us and does to talk of. / have cer- 
tainly gained strength through the winter and am not 
far from being well; and I think I understand my 
own case now so much better than I did, as to be 
able by care to keep off any serious return of illness. 
I am convinced that bile is at the bottom of all I 
have suffered, which makes it easy to know how to 
treat myself. You will be glad to hear thus much of 
me, I am sure. We have just had a few days' visit 
from Edward, who brought us a good account of his 
father, and the very circumstance of his coming at 
all, of his father's being able to spare him, is itself a 
good account. He grows still, and still improves in 
appearance, at least in the estimation of his aunts, 
who love him better and better, as they see the sweet 
temper and warm affections of the boy confirmed in the 
young man : I tried hard to persuade him that he must 
have some message for William,* but in vain. . . . 
This is not a time of year for donkey-carriages, and 
our donkeys are necessarily having so long a run of 
luxurious idleness that I suppose we shall find they 
have forgotten much of their education when we use 
them again. We do not use two at once however ; 
don't imagine such excesses. . . Our own new clergy- 
man t is expected here very soon, perhaps in time to 

* Miss Bigg's nephew, the present Sir William Heathcote, of 

*T Her brother Henry, who had been ordained late in life. 

160 A Memoir of 

assist Mr. Papillon on Sunday. I shall be very glad 
when the first hearing is over. It will be a nervous 
hour for our pew, though we hear that he acquits him- 
self with as much ease and collectedness, as if he had 
been used to it all his life. We have no chance we 
know of seeing you between Streatham and Win- 
chester: you go the other road and are engaged to 
two or three houses ; if there should be any change, 
however, you know how welcome you would be. . . . 
We have been reading the " Poet's Pilgrimage to 
Waterloo," and generally with much approbation. 
Nothing will please all the world, you know ; but 
parts of it suit me better than much that he has 
written before. The opening — the proem I believe 
he calls it — is very beautiful. Poor man ! one can- 
not but grieve for the loss of the son so fondly de- 
scribed. Has he at all recovered it ? What do Mr. 
and Mrs. Hill know about his present state ? 
< Yours aff* 

1 J. Austen. 

' The real object of this letter is to ask you for a 
receipt, but I thought it genteel not to let it appear 
early. We remember some excellent orange wine at 
Manydown, made from Seville oranges, entirely or 
chiefly. I should be very much obliged to you for 
the receipt, if you can command it within a few 

On the day before, January 23rd, she had written 
to her niece in the same hopeful tone : ' I feel myself 
getting stronger than I was, and can so perfectly walk 

Jane Austen. i6r 

to Alton, or back again without fatigue, that I hope 
to be able to do both when summer comes.' 

Alas ! summer came to her only on her death- 
bed. March 17th is the last date to be found in the 
manuscript on which she was engaged; and as the 
watch of the drowned man indicates the time of his 
death, so does this final date seem to fix the period 
when her mind could no longer pursue its accustomed 

And here I cannot do better than quote the words 
of the niece to whose private records of her aunt's 
life and character I have been so often indebted : — 
* I do not know how early the alarming symptoms of 
her malady came on. It was in the following March 
that I had the first idea of her being seriously ill. It 
had been settled that about the end of that month, or 
the beginning of April, I should spend a few days at 
Chawton, in the absence of my father and mother, 
who were just then engaged with Mrs. Leigh Perrot in 
arranging her late husband's affairs ; but Aunt Jane 
became too ill to have me in the house, and so I 
went instead to my sister Mrs. Lefroy at Wyards*. 
The next day we walked over to Chawton to make 
enquiries after our aunt. She was then keeping her 
room, but said she would see us, and we went up to 
her. She was in her dressing gown, and was sitting 
quite like an invalid in an arm-chair, but she got up 
and kindly greeted us, and then, pointing to seats 
which had been arranged for us by the fire, she said, 
" There is a chair for the married lady, and a little 


1 62 A Memoir of 

stool for you, Caroline." * It is strange, but those 
trifling words were the last of hers that I can re- 
member, for I retain no recollection of what was said 
by anyone in the conversation that ensued. I was 
struck by the alteration in herself. She was very 
pale, her voice was weak and low, and there was 
about her a general appearance of debility and suffer- 
ing ; but I have been told that she never had much 
acute pain. She was not equal to the exertion of 
talking to us, and our visit to the sick room was a 
very short one, Aunt Cassandra soon taking us away. 
I do not suppose we stayed a quarter of an hour ; and 
I never saw Aunt Jane again.' 

In May 1817 she was persuaded to remove to 
Winchester, for the sake of medical advice from Mr. 
Lyford. The Lyfords have, for some generations, 
maintained a high character in Winchester for medical 
skill, and the Mr. Lyford of that day was a man of 
more than provincial reputation, in whom great 
London practitioners expressed confidence. Mr. 
Lyford spoke encouragingly. It was not, of course, 
his business to extinguish hope in his patient, but I 
believe that he had, from the first, very little expec- 
tation of a permanent cure. All that was gained by 
the removal from home was the satisfaction of having 
done the best that could be done, together with such 
alleviations of suffering as superior medical skill could 

Jane and her sister Cassandra took lodgings in 
College Street. They had two kind friends living 

* The writer was at that time under twelve years old. 

Jane Austen. 163 

in the Close, Mrs. Heathcote and Miss Bigg, the 
mother and aunt of the present Sir Wm. Heathcote 
of Hursley, between whose family and ours a close 
friendship has existed for several generations. These 
friends did all that they could to promote the comfort 
of the sisters, during that sad sojourn in Winchester, 
both by their society, and by supplying those little 
conveniences in which a lodging-house was likely to 
be deficient. It was shortly after settling in these 
lodgings that she wrote to a nephew the following 
characteristic letter, no longer, alas ! in her former 
strong, clear hand. 

'Mrs. David's, College St., Winton, 

Tuesday, May 27th. 

' There is no better way, my dearest E., of thank- 
ing you for your affectionate concern for me during 
my illness than by telling you myself, as soon as 
possible, that I continue to get better. I will not 
boast of my handwriting ; neither that nor my face 
have yet recovered their proper beauty, but in other 
respects I gain strength very fast. I am now out of 
bed from 9 in the morning to 10 at night : upon 
the sofa, it is true, but I eat my meals with aunt 
Cassandra in a rational way, and can employ myself, 
and walk from one room to another. Mr. Lyford 
says he will cure me, and if he fails, I shall draw up 
a memorial and lay it before the Dean and Chapter, 
and have no doubt of redress from that pious, 
learned, and disinterested body. Our lodgings are 
very comfortable. We have a neat little drawing- 
room with a bow window overlooking Dr. Gabell's 

164 A Memoir of 

garden.* Thanks to the kindness of your father and 
mother in sending me their carriage, my journey 
hither on Saturday was performed with very little 
fatigue, and had it been a fine day, I think I should 
have felt none; but it distressed me to see uncle 
Henry and Wm. Knight, who kindly attended us on 
horseback, riding in the rain almost the whole way. 
We expect a visit from them to-morrow, and hope 
they will stay the night ; and on Thursday, which is 
a confirmation and a holiday, we are to get Charles 
out to breakfast We have had but one visit from 
him> poor fellow, as he is in sick-room, but he hopes 
to be out to-night. We see Mrs. Heathcote every 
day, and William is to call upon us soon. God bless 
you, my dear E. If ever you are ill, may you be 
as tenderly nursed as I have been. May the same 
blessed alleviations of anxious, sympathising friends 
be yours : and may you possess, as I dare say you 
will, the greatest blessing of all in the consciousness 
of not being unworthy of their love. / could not 
feel this. 

1 Your very affec te Aunt, 

< J. A.' 

The following extract from a letter which has been 
before printed, written soon after the former, breathes 
the same spirit of humility and thankfulness : — 

' I will only say further that my dearest sister, my 
tender, watchful, indefatigable nurse, has not been 

* It was the corner house in College Street, at the entrance to 

Jane A listen. 165 

made ill by her exertions. As to what I owe her, 
and the anxious affection of all my beloved family 
on this occasion, I can only cry over it, and pray 
God to bless them more and more.' 

Throughout her illness she was nursed by her 
sister, often assisted by her sister-in-law, my mother. 
Both were with her when she died. Two of her 
brothers, who were clergymen, lived near enough to 
Winchester to be in frequent attendance, and to ad- 
minister the services suitable for a Christian's death- 
bed. While she used the language of hope to her 
correspondents, she was fully aware of her danger, 
though not appalled by it It is true that there was 
much to attach her to life. She was happy in her 
family ; she was just beginning to feel confidence in 
her own success ; and, no doubt, the exercise of her 
great talents was an enjoyment in itself. We may 
well believe that she would gladly have lived longer ; 
but she was enabled without dismay or complaint to 
prepare for death. She was a humble, believing 
Christian. Her life had been passed in the perform- 
ance of home duties, and the cultivation of domestic 
affections, without any self-seeking or craving after 
applause. She had always sought, as it were by 
instinct, to promote the happiness of all who came 
within her influence, and doubtless she had her re- 
ward in the peace of mind which was granted her in 
her last days. Her sweetness of temper never failed. 
She was ever considerate and grateful to those who 
attended on her. At times, when she felt rather 
better, her playfulness of spirit revived, and she 

1 66 A Memoir of 

amused them even in their sadness. Once, when 
she thought herself near her end, she said what she 
imagined might be her last words to those around 
her, and particularly thanked her sister-in-law for 
being with her, saying: 'You have always been a 
kind sister to me, Mary/ When the end at last 
came, she sank rapidly, and on being asked by her 
attendants whether there was anything that she 
wanted, her reply was, ' Nothing but death! These 
were her last words. In quietness and peace she 
breathed her last on the morning of July 18, 1817. 

On the 24th of that month she was buried in 
Winchester Cathedral, near the centre of the north 
aisle, almost opposite to the beautiful chantry tomb 
of William of Wykeham, A large slab of black 
marble in the pavement marks the place. Her own 
family only attended the funeral. Her sister re- 
turned to her desolated home, there to devote herself, 
for ten years, to the care of her aged mother ; and to 
live much on the memory of her lost sister, till called 
many years later to rejoin her. Her brothers went 
back sorrowing to their several homes. They were 
very fond and very proud of her. They were at- 
tached to her by her talents, her virtues, and her 
engaging manners ; and each loved afterwards to 
fancy a resemblance in some niece or daughter of 
his own to the dear sister Jane, whose perfect equal 
they yet never expected to see. 

Jane Austen. 167 


The Cancelled Chapter {Chap. X.) of '« Persuasion.' 

WITH all this knowledge of Mr. Elliot and this 
authority to impart it, Anne left Westgate Buildings, 
her mind deeply busy in revolving what - she had 
heard, feeling, thinking, recalling, and foreseeing 
everything, shocked at Mr. Elliot, sighing over future 
Kellynch, and pained for Lady Russell, whose con- 
fidence in him had been entire. The embarrassment 
which must be felt from this hour in his presence ! 
How to behave to him ? How to get rid of him ? 
What to do by any of the party at home ? Where 
to be blind ? Where to be active ? It was altogether 
a confusion of images and doubts — a perplexity, an 
agitation which she could not see the end of. And 
she was in Gay Street, and still so much engrossed 
that she started on being addressed by Admiral 
Croft, as if he were a person unlikely to be met 
there. It was within a few steps of his own door. 

' You are going to call upon my wife/ said he. ' She 
will be very glad to see you.' 

Anne denied it. 

' No ! she really had not time, she was in her way 
home ;' but while she spoke the Admiral had stepped 
back and knocked at the door, calling out, 

1 68 A Memoir of 

'Yes, yes ; do go in ; she is all alone ; go in and rest 

Anne felt so little disposed at this time to be in 
company of any sort, that it vexed her to be thus 
constrained, but she was obliged to stop. 

1 Since you are so very kind/ said she, ' I will just 
ask Mrs. Croft how she does, but I really cannot stay 
five minutes. You are sure she is quite alone ? ' 

The possibility of Captain Wentworth had oc- 
curred ; and most fearfully anxious was she to be 
assured — either that he was within, or that he was 
not — which might have been a question. 

' Oh yes ! quite alone, nobody but her mantua- 
maker with her, and they have been shut up together 
this half-hour, so it must be over soon/ 

1 Her mantuamaker ! Then I am sure my calling 
now would be most inconvenient. Indeed you must 
allow me to leave my card and be so good as to 
explain it afterwards to Mrs. Croft/ 

' No, no, not at all — not at all — she will be very 
happy to see you. Mind, I will not swear that she 
has not something particular to say to you, but that 
will all come out in the right place. I give no hints. 
Why, Miss Elliot, we begin to hear strange things of 
you (smiling in her face). But you have not much 
the look of it, as grave as a little judge !' 

Anne blushed. 

' Aye, aye, that will do now, it is all right. I 
thought we were not mistaken.' 

She was left to guess at the direction of his sus- 
picions ; the first wild idea had been of some dis- 

Jane Austen. 169 

closure from his brother-in-law, but she was ashamed 
the next moment, and felt how far more probable it 
was that he should be meaning Mr. Elliot. The door 
was opened, and the man evidently beginning to deny 
his mistress, when the sight of his master stopped 
him. The Admiral enjoyed the joke exceedingly. 
Anne thought his triumph over Stephen rather too 
long. At last, however, he was able to invite her up 
stairs, and stepping before her said, ' I will just go 
up with you myself and show you in. I cannot stay 
because I must go to the Post-Office, but if you will 
only sit down for five minutes I am sure Sophy will 
come, and you will find nobody to disturb you — there 
is nobody but Frederick here/ opening the door as 
he spoke. Such a person to be passed over as no- 
body to her ! After being allowed to feel quite 
secure, indifferent, at her ease, to have it burst on her 
that she was to be the next moment in the same 
room with him ! No time for recollection ! for plan- 
ning behaviour or regulating manners ! There was 
time only to turn pale before she had passed through 
the door, and met the astonished eyes of Captain 
Wentworth, who was sitting by the fire, pretending 
to read, and prepared for no greater surprise than 
the Admiral's hasty return. 

Equally unexpected was the meeting on each side. 
There was nothing to be done, however, but to stifle 
feelings, and to be quietly polite, and the Admiral 
was too much on the alert to leave any troublesome 
pause. He repeated again what he had said before 
about his wife and everybody, insisted on Anne's 

1 70 A Memoir of 

sitting down and being perfectly comfortable — was 
sorry he must leave her himself, but was sure Mrs. 
Croft would be down very soon, and would go up- 
stairs and give her notice directly. Anne was sitting 
down, but now she arose, again to entreat him not to 
interrupt Mrs. Croft and re-urge the wish of going 
away and calling another time. But the Admiral 
would not hear of it ; and if she did not return to the 
charge with unconquerable perseverance, or did not 
with a more passive determination walk quietly out 
of the room (as . certainly she might have done), 
may she not be pardoned ? If she had no horror of 
a few minutes' tete-a-tete with Captain Wentworth, 
may she not be pardoned for not wishing to give 
him the idea that she had ? She reseated herself, 
and the Admiral took leave, but on reaching the 
door, said — 

1 Frederick, a word with yoit if you please.' 

Captain Wentworth went to him, and instantly, 
before they were well out of the room, the Admiral 
continued — 

'As I am going to leave you together, it is but 
fair I should give you something to talk of ; and so, 
if you please — - — ' 

Here the door was very firmly closed, she could 
guess by which of the two — and she lost entirely 
what immediately followed, but it was impossible 
for her not to distinguish parts of the rest, for the 
Admiral, on the strength of the door's being shut, 
was speaking without any management of voice, 
though she could hear his companion trying to check 

Jane A tcsten. iyi 

him. She could not doubt their being speaking of 
her. She heard her own name and Kellynch re- 
peatedly. She was very much disturbed. She 
knew not what to do, or what to expect, and among 
other agonies felt the possibility of Captain Went- 
worth's not returning into the room at all, which, 
after her consenting to stay, would have been — too 
bad for language. They seemed to be talking of 
the Admiral's lease of Kellynch. She heard him 
say something of the lease being signed — or not 
signed — that was not likely to be a very agitating 
subject, but then followed — 

' I hate to be at an uncertainty. I must know at 
once. Sophy thinks the same.' 

Then in a lower tone Captain Wentworth seemed 
remonstrating, wanting to be excused, wanting to put 
something off. 

' Phoo, phoo/ answered the Admiral, ' now is the 
time ; if you will not speak, I will stop and speak 

' Very well, sir, very well, sir/ followed with some 
impatience from his companion, opening the door as 
he spoke — 

' You will then, you promise you will ? ' replied 
the Admiral in all the power of his natural voice, 
unbroken even by one thin door. 

' Yes, sir, yes/ And the Admiral was hastily left, 
the door was closed, and the moment arrived in which 
Anne was alone with Captain Wentworth. 

She could not attempt to see how he looked, but 
he walked immediately to a window as if irresolute 

172 A Memoir of 

and embarrassed, and for about the space of five 
seconds she repented what she had done — censured 
it as unwise, blushed over it as indelicate. She 
longed to be able to speak of the weather or the 
concert, but could only compass the relief of taking a 
newspaper in her hand. The distressing pause was 
over, however ; he turned round in half a minute, and 
coming towards the table where she sat, said in a 
voice of effort and constraint — 

'You must have heard too much already, Madam, 
to be in any doubt of my having promised Admiral 
Croft to speak to you on a particular subject, and 
this conviction determines me to do so, however re- 
pugnant to my — to all my sense of propriety to be 
taking so great a liberty ! You will acquit me of 
impertinence I trust, by considering me as speaking 
only for another, and speaking by necessity ; and the 
Admiral is a man who can never be thought imperti- 
nent by one who knows him as you do. His inten- 
tions are always the kindest and the best, and you 
will perceive he is actuated by none other in the 
application which I am now, with — with very pe- 
culiar feelings — obliged to make.' He stopped, but 
merely to recover breath, not seeming to expect any 
answer. Anne listened as if her life depended on the 
issue of his speech. He proceeded with a forced 
alacrity : — 

'The Admiral, Madam, was this morning confi- 
dently informed that you were — upon my soul, I am 
quite at a loss, ashamed (breathing and speaking 
quickly) — the awkwardness of giving information of 

Jane Austen. 173 

this kind to one of the parties — you can be at no loss 
to understand me. It was very confidently said that 
Mr. Elliot — that everything was settled in the family 
for a union between Mr. Elliot and yourself. It was 
added that you were to live at Kellynch — that 
Kellynch was to be given up. This the Admiral 
knew could not be correct. But it occurred to 
him that it might be the wish of the parties. And 
my commission from him, Madam, is to say, that 
if the family wish is such, his lease of Kellynch 
shall be cancelled, and he and my sister will provide 
themselves with another home, without imagining 
themselves to be doing anything which under similar 
circumstances would not be done for them. This is 
all, Madam. A very few words in reply from you 
will be sufficient. That / should be the person 
commissioned on this subject is extraordinary ! and 
believe me, Madam, it is no less painful. A very 
few words, however, will put an end to the awkward- 
ness and distress we may both be feeling/ 

Anne spoke a word or two, but they were unintel- 
ligible ; and before she could command herself, he 
added, 'If you will only tell me that the Admiral 
may address a line to Sir Walter, it will be enough. 
Pronounce only the words, he may, and I shall imme- 
diately follow him with your message/ 

1 No, Sir,' said Anne ; ' there is no message. You 
are misin — the Admiral is misinformed. I do justice 
to the kindness of his intentions, but he is quite mis- 
taken. There is no truth in any such report/ 

He was a moment silent. She turned her eyes 

174 A Memoir of 

towards him for the first time since his re-entering the 
room. His colour was varying, and he was looking 
at her with all the power and keenness which she 
believed no other eyes than his possessed. 

' No truth in any such report?' he repeated. 'No 
truth in any part of it V 

' None.' 

He had been standing by a chair, enjoying the 
relief of leaning on it, or of playing with it. He now 
sat down, drew it a little nearer to her, and looked 
with an expression which had something more than 
penetration in it — something softer. Her countenance 
did not discourage. It was a silent but a very power- 
ful dialogue ; on his supplication, on hers acceptance. 
Still a little nearer, and a hand taken and pressed ; 
and ' Anne, my own dear Anne ! ' bursting forth in all 
the fulness of exquisite feeling, — and all suspense and 
indecision were over. They were re-united. They 
were restored to all that had been lost. They were 
carried back to the past with only an increase of at- 
tachment and confidence, and only such a flutter of 
present delight as made them little fit for the inter- 
ruption of Mrs. Croft when she joined them not long 
afterwards. She, probably, in the observations of the 
next ten minutes saw something to suspect ; and 
though it was hardly possible for a woman of her 
description to wish the mantuamaker had imprisoned 
her longer, she might be very likely wishing for some 
excuse to run about the house, some storm to break 
the windows above, or a summons to the Admiral's 
shoemaker below. Fortune favoured them all, how- 

Jane Austen. 175 

ever, in another way, in a gentle, steady rain, just hap- 
pily set in as the Admiral returned and Anne rose to 
go. She was earnestly invited to stay dinner. A 
note was despatched to Camden Place, and she staid — 
staid till ten at night ; and during that time the hus- 
band and wife, either by the wife's contrivance, or by 
simply going on in their usual way, were frequently 
out of the room together — gone upstairs to hear a 
noise, or downstairs to settle their accounts, or upon 
the landing to trim the lamp. And these precious 
moments were turned to so good an account that all the 
most anxious feelings of the past were gone through. 
Before they parted at night, Anne had the felicity 
of being assured that in the first place (so far from 
being altered for the worse), she had gained inexpres- 
sibly in personal loveliness ; and that as to character, 
hers was now fixed on his mind as perfection itself, 
maintaining the just medium of fortitude and gentle- 
ness — that he had never ceased to love and prefer 
her, though it had been only at Uppercross that he 
had learnt to do her justice, and only at Lyme that 
he had begun to understand his own*feelings ; that at 
Lyme he had received lessons of more than one kind — 
the passing admiration of Mr. Elliot had at least 
roused him, and the scene on the Cobb, and at Captain 
Harville's, had fixed her superiority. In his preced- 
ing attempts to attach himself to Louisa Musgrove 
(the attempts of anger and pique), he protested that 
he had continually felt the impossibility of really 
caring for Louisa, though till that day, till the leisure 
for reflection which followed it, he had not under- 

176 A Memoir of 

stood the perfect excellence of the mind with which 
Louisa's could so ill bear comparison ; or the perfect, 
the unrivalled hold it possessed over his own. There 
he had learnt to distinguish between the steadiness of 
principle and the obstinacy of self-will, between the 
darings of heedlessness and the resolution of a col- 
lected mind ; there he had seen everything to exalt in 
his estimation the woman he had lost, and there had 
begun to deplore the pride, the folly, the madness of 
resentment, which had kept him from trying to regain 
her when thrown in his way. From that period to the 
present had his penance been the most severe. He 
had no sooner been free from the horror and remorse 
attending the first few days of Louisa's accident, no 
sooner had begun to feel himself alive again, than he 
had begun to feel himself, though alive, not at liberty. 
He found that he was considered by his friend Har- 
ville an engaged man. The Harvilles entertained 
not a doubt of a mutual attachment between him and 
Louisa; and though this to a degree was contradicted 
instantly, it yet made him feel that perhaps by her 
family, by everybody, by Jierself even, the same idea 
might be held, and that he was not free in honour, 
though if such were to be the conclusion, too free alas ! 
in heart. He had never thought justly on this sub- 
ject before, and he had not sufficiently considered 
that his excessive intimacy at Uppercross must have 
its danger of ill consequence in. many ways ; and that 
while trying whether he could attach himself to either 
of the girls, he might be exciting unpleasant reports 
if not raising unrequited regard. 

Jane Austen. 177 

He found too late that he had entangled himself, 
and that precisely as he became thoroughly satisfied 
of his not carmg for Louisa at all, he must regard 
himself as bound to her if her feelings for him were 
what the Harvilles supposed. It determined him to 
leave Lyme, and await her perfect recovery elsewhere. 
He would gladly weaken by any fair means what- 
ever sentiment or speculations concerning them might 
exist; and he went therefore into Shropshire, meaning 
after a while to return to the Crofts at Kellynch, and 
act as he found requisite. 

He had remained in Shropshire, lamenting the 
blindness of his own pride and the blunders of his 
own calculations, till at once released from Louisa 
by the astonishing felicity of her engagement with 

Bath — Bath had instantly followed in thought, and 
not long after in fact. To Bath — to arrive with hope, 
to be torn by jealousy at the first sight of Mr. Elliot ; 
to experience all the changes of each at the concert ; 
to be miserable by the morning's circumstantial re- 
port, to be now more happy than language could ex- 
press, or any heart but his own be capable of. 

He was very eager and very delightful in the de- 
scription of what he had felt at the concert ; the evening 
seemed to have been made up of exquisite moments. 
The moment of her stepping forward in the octagon 
room to speak to him, the moment of Mr. Elliot's 
appearing and tearing her away, and one or two sub- 
sequent moments, marked by returning hope or in- 
creasing despondency, were dwelt on with energy. 


178 A Memoir of 

' To see you/ cried he, ' in the midst of those who 
could not be my well-wishers; to see your cousin 
close by you, conversing and smiling, and feel all the 
horrible eligibilities and proprieties of the match ! To 
consider it as the certain wish of every being who 
could hope to influence you ! Even if your own feel- 
ings were reluctant or indifferent, to consider what 
powerful support would be his ! Was it not enough 
to make the fool of me which I appeared ? How 
could I look on without agony ? Was not the very 
sight of the friend who sat behind you ; was not the 
recollection of what had been, the knowledge of her 
influence, the indelible, immovable impression of what 
persuasion had once done — was it not all against 

' You should have distinguished/ replied Anne. 
* You should not have suspected me now ; the case so 
different, and my age so different. If I was wrong in 
yielding to persuasion once, remember it was to per- 
suasion exerted on the side of safety, not of risk. 
When I yielded, I thought it was to duty ; but no 
duty could be called in aid here. In marrying a man 
indifferent to me, all risk would have been incurred, 
and all duty violated.' 

* Perhaps I ought to have reasoned thus/ he re- 
plied ; ' but I could not. I could not derive benefit 
from the late knowledge I had acquired of your cha- 
racter. I could not bring it into play ; it was over- 
whelmed, buried, lost in those earlier feelings which I 
had been smarting under year after year. I could 
think of you only as one who had yielded, who had 

Jane Austen, 179 

given me up, who had been influenced by anyone 
rather than by me. I saw you with the very person 
who had guided you in that year of misery. I had 
no reason to believe her of less authority now. The 
force of habit was to be added.' 

' I should have thought/ said Anne, ' that my man- 
ner to yourself might have spared you much or all 
of this/ 

' No, no ! Your manner might be only the ease 
which your engagement to another man would give. 
I left you in this belief; and yet — I was determined 
to see you again. My spirits rallied with the morn- 
ing, and I felt that I had still a motive for remaining 
here. The Admiral's news, indeed, was a revulsion ; 
since that moment I have been divided what to do, 
and had it been confirmed, this would have been my 
last day in Bath/ 

There was time for all this to pass, with such inter- 
ruptions only as enhanced the charm of the commu- 
nication, and Bath could hardly contain any other 
two beings at once so rationally and so rapturously 
happy as during that evening occupied the sofa of 
Mrs. Croft's drawing-room in Gay Street. 

Captain Wentworth had taken care to meet the 
Admiral as he returned into the house, to satisfy him 
as to Mr. Elliot and Kellynch ; and the delicacy of 
the Admiral's good-nature kept him from saying 
another word on the subject to Anne. He was quite 
concerned lest he might have been giving her pain by 
touching on a tender part — who could say ? She 
might be liking her cousin better than he liked her ; 

i8o A Memoir of 

and, upon recollection, if they had been to marry at 
all, why should they have waited so long ? When the 
evening closed, it is probable that the Admiral re- 
ceived some new ideas from his wife, whose particu- 
larly friendly manner in parting with her gave Anne 
the gratifying persuasion of her seeing and approving. 
It had been such a day to Anne ; the hours which 
had passed since her leaving Camden Place had done 
so much ! She was almost bewildered — almost too 
happy in looking back. It was necessary to sit up 
half the night, and lie awake the remainder, to com- 
prehend with composure her present state, and pay 
for the overplus of bliss by headache and fatigue. 

Then follows Chapter XL, i.e. XII. in the pub- 
lished book and at the end is written — 

Finis i July 18, 1816. 

Jane A us ten. 1 8 1 


The last Work. 

Jane Austen was taken from us: how much un- 
exhausted talent perished with her, how largely she 
might yet have contributed to the entertainment of 
her readers, if her life had been prolonged, cannot 
be known ; but it is certain that the mine at which 
she had so long laboured was not worked out, and 
that she was still diligently employed in collect- 
ing fresh materials from it. ' Persuasion ' had been 
finished in August 1816; some time was probably 
given to correcting it for the press ; but on the 27th 
of the following January, according to the date on 
her own manuscript, she began a new novel, and 
worked at it up to the 17th of March. The chief 
part of this manuscript is written in her usual firm 
and neat hand, but some of the latter pages seem to 
have been first traced in pencil, probably when she 
was too weak to sit long at her desk, and written 
over in ink afterwards. The quantity produced does 
not indicate any decline of power or industry, for in 
those seven weeks twelve chapters had been com- 
pleted. It is more difficult to judge of the quality 
of a work so little advanced. It had received no 
name ; there was scarcely any indication what the 

1 82 A Memoir of 

course of the story was to be, nor was any heroine 
yet perceptible, who, like Fanny Price, or Anne 
Elliot, might draw round her the sympathies of the 
reader. Such an unfinished fragment cannot be pre- 
sented to the public ; but I am persuaded that some 
of Jane Austen's admirers will be glad to learn some- 
thing about the latest creations which were forming 
themselves in her mind ; and therefore, as some of 
the principal characters were already sketched in 
with a vigorous hand, I will try to give an idea of 
them, illustrated by extracts from the work. 

The scene is laid at Sanditon, a village on the 
Sussex coast, just struggling into notoriety as a 
bathing-place, under the patronage of the two prin- 
cipal proprietors of the parish, Mr. Parker and Lady 

Mr. Parker was an amiable man, with more en- 
thusiasm than judgment, whose somewhat shallow 
mind overflowed with the one idea of the prosperity 
of Sanditon, together with a jealous contempt of the 
rival village of Brinshore, where a similar attempt 
was going on. To the regret of his much-enduring 
wife, he had left his family mansion, with all its an- 
cestral comforts of gardens, shrubberies, and shelter, 
situated in a valley some miles inland, and had built 
a new residence — a Trafalgar House — on the bare 
brow of the hill overlooking Sanditon and the sea, 
exposed to every wind that blows ; but he will con- 
fess to no discomforts, nor suffer his family to feel 
any from the change. The following extract brings 
him before the reader, mounted on his hobby : — 

Jane Austen. 183 

' He wanted to secure the promise of a visit, and 
to get as many of the family as his own house would 
hold to follow him to Sanditon as soon as possible ; 
and, healthy as all the Heywoods undeniably were, 
he foresaw that every one of them would be bene- 
fitted by the sea. He held it indeed as certain that 
no person, however upheld for the present by for- 
tuitous aids of exercise and spirit in a semblance of 
health, could be really in a state of secure and per- 
manent health without spending at least six weeks 
by the sea every year. The sea air and sea-bathing 
together were nearly infallible ; one or other of them 
being a match for every disorder of the stomach, the 
lungs, or the blood. They were anti-spasmodic, anti- 
pulmonary, anti-bilious, and anti-rheumatic. Nobody 
could catch cold by the sea ; nobody wanted appe- 
tite by the sea; nobody wanted spirits; nobody 
wanted strength. They were healing, softening, re- 
laxing, fortifying, and bracing, seemingly just as was 
wanted ; sometimes one, sometimes the other. If 
the sea breeze failed, the sea-bath was the certain 
corrective ; and when bathing disagreed, the sea 
breeze was evidently designed by nature for the cure. 
His eloquence, however, could not prevail. Mr. and 
Mrs. Heywood never left home The mainten- 
ance, education, and fitting out of fourteen children 
demanded a very quiet, settled, careful course of life ; 
and obliged them to be stationary and healthy at 
Willingden. What prudence had at first enjoined 
was now rendered pleasant by habit. They never 
left home, and they had a gratification in saying so.' 

1 84 A Memoir of 

Lady Denham's was a very different character. 
She was a rich vulgar widow, with a sharp but narrow 
mind, who cared for the prosperity of Sanditon only 
so far as it might increase the value of her own 
property. She is thus described : — 

' Lady Denham had been a rich Miss Brereton, 
born to wealth, but not to education. Her first 
husband had been a Mr. Hollis, a man of consider- 
able property in the country, of which a large share 
of the parish of Sanditon, with manor and mansion- 
house, formed a part. He had been an elderly man 
when she married him ; her own age about thirty. 
Her motives for such a match could be little under- 
stood at the distance of forty years, but she had so 
well nursed and pleased Mr. Hollis that at his death 
he left her everything — all his estates, and all at her 
disposal. After a widowhood of some years she had 
been induced to marry again. The late Sir Harry 
Denham, of Denham Park, in the neighbourhood of 
Sanditon, succeeded in removing her and her large 
income to his own domains ; but he could not suc- 
ceed in the views of permanently enriching his family 
which were attributed to him. She had been too 
wary to put anything out of her own power, and 
when, on Sir Harry's death, she returned again to 
her own house at Sanditon, she was said to have 
made this boast, "that though she had got nothing 
but her title from the family, yet* she had give?i 
nothing for it." For the title it was to be supposed 
that she married. 

1 Lady Denham was indeed a great lady, beyond the 

Jane Austen, 185 

common wants of society ; for she had many thousands 
a year to bequeath, and three distinct sets of people 
to be courted by : — her own relations, who might very 
reasonably wish for her original thirty thousand pounds 
among them ; the legal heirs of Mr. Hollis, who might 
hope to be more indebted to her sense of justice than 
he had allowed them to be to his ; and those members 
of the Denham family for whom her second husband 
had hoped to make a good bargain. By all these, or 
by branches of them, she had, no doubt, been long 
and still continued to be well attacked ; and of these 
three divisions Mr. Parker did not hesitate to say that 
Mr. Hollis's kindred were the- least in favour, and Sir 
Harry Denham's the most. The former, he believed, 
had done themselves irremediable harm by expres- 
sions of very unwise resentment at the time of Mr. 
Hollis's death: the latter, to the advantage of being 
the remnant of a connection which she certainly 
valued, joined those of having been known to her 
from their childhood, and of being always at hand to 
pursue their interests by seasonable attentions. But 
another claimant was now to be taken into account : 
a young female relation whom Lady Denham had 
been induced to receive into her family. After having 
always protested against any such addition, and often 
enjoyed the repeated defeat she had given to every 
attempt of her own relations to introduce 'this young 
lady, or that young lady,' as a companion at Sanditon 
House, she had brought back with her from London 
last Michaelmas a Miss Clara Brereton, who bid fair 
to vie in favour with Sir Edward Denham, and to 

1 86 A Memoir of 

secure for herself and her family that share of the 
accumulated property which they had certainly the 
best right to inherit/ 

Lady Denham's character comes out in a conversa- 
tion which takes place at Mr. Parker's tea-table. 

* The conversation turned entirely upon Sanditon, its 
present number of visitants, and the chances of a good 
season. It was evident that Lady Denham had more 
anxiety, more fears of loss than her coadjutor. She 
wanted to have the place fill faster, and seemed to 
have many harassing apprehensions of the lodgings 
being in some instances underlet. To a report that a 
large boarding-school was expected she replies, ' Ah, 
well, no harm in that. They will stay their six weeks, 
and out of such a number who knows but some may 
be consumptive, and want asses' milk; and I have two 
milch asses at this very time. But perhaps the little 
Misses may hurt the furniture. I hope they will have 
a good sharp governess to look after them.' But she 
wholly disapproved of Mr. Parker's wish to secure the 
residence of a medical man amongst them. 'Why, 
what should we do with a doctor here ? It would only 
be encouraging our servants and the poor to fancy 
themselves ill, if there was a doctor at hand. Oh, 
pray let us have none of that tribe at Sanditon : we 
go on very well as we are. There is the sea, and the 
downs, and my milch asses: and I have told Mrs. 
Whitby that if anybody enquires for a chamber horse, 
they may be supplied at a fair rate (poor Mr. Hollis's 
chamber horse, as good as new) ; and what can people 
want more ? I have lived seventy good years in the 

Jane A us ten, 187 

world, and never took physic, except twice: and never 
saw the face of a doctor in all my life on my own 
account; and I really believe if my poor dear Sir 
Harry had never seen one neither, he would have been 
alive now. Ten fees, one after another, did the men 
take who sent him out of the world. I beseech you, 
Mr. Parker, no doctors here/ 

This lady's character comes out more strongly in a 
conversation with Mr. Parker's guest, Miss Charlotte 
Heywood. Sir Edward Denham with his sister 
Esther and Clara Brereton have just, left them. 

' Charlotte accepted an invitation from Lady Den- 
ham to remain with her on the terrace, when the others 
adjourned to the library. Lady Denham, like a true 
great lady, talked, and talked only of her own 
concerns, and Charlotte listened. Taking hold of 
Charlotte's arm with the ease of one who felt that 
any notice from her was a favour, and communicative 
from the same sense of importance, or from a natural 
love of talking, she immediately said in a tone of 
great satisfaction, and with a look of arch sagacity : — 

' Miss Esther wants me to invite her and her brother 
to spend a week with me at Sanditon House, as I did 
last summer, but I shan't. She has been trying to get 
round me every way with her praise of this and her 
praise of that ; but I saw what she was about. I saw 
through it all. I am not very easily taken in, my dear/ 

Charlotte could think of nothing more harmless to 
be said than the simple enquiry of, ' Sir Edward and 
Miss Denham?' 

'Yes, my dear; my young folks, as I call them^ 

A Memoir of 

sometimes: for I take them very much by the hand, 
and had them with me last summer, about this time, 
for a week — from Monday to Monday — and very 
delighted and thankful they were. For they are very 
good young people, my dear. I would not have you 
think that I only notice them for poor dear Sir Harry's 
sake. No, no; they are very deserving themselves, 
or, trust me, they would not be so much in my 
company. I am not the woman to help anybody 
blindfold. I always take care to know what I am 
about, and who I have to deal with before I stir a 
finger. I do not think I was ever overreached in my 
life ; and that is a good deal for a woman to say that 
has been twice married. Poor dear Sir Harry (between 
ourselves) thought at first to have got more, but (with 
a bit of a sigh) he is gone, and we must not find fault 
with the dead. Nobody could live happier together 
than us : and he was a very honourable man, quite 
the gentleman, of ancient family ; and when he died I 
gave Sir Edward his gold watch.' 

This was said with a look at her companion which 
implied its right to produce a great impression ; and 
seeing no rapturous astonishment in Charlotte's coun- 
tenance, she added quickly, 

'He did not bequeath it to his nephew, my dear; 
it was no bequest ; it was not in the will. He only 
told me, and that but once, that he should wish his 
nephew to have his watch ; but it need not have been 
binding, if I had not chose it.' 

' Very kind indeed, very handsome ! ' said Char- 
lotte, absolutely forced to affect admiration. 

Jane A listen. 1 89 

* Yes, my dear ; and it is not the only kind thing I 
have done by him. I have been a very liberal friend 
to Sir Edward ; and, poor young man, he needs it 
bad enough. For, though I am only the dowager, 
my dear, and he is the heir, things do not stand 
between us in the way they usually do between those 
two parties. Not a shilling do I receive from the 
Denham estate. Sir Edward has no payments to 
make me. He don't stand uppermost, believe me ; it 
is / that help him! 

1 Indeed ! he is a very fine young man, and par- 
ticularly elegant in his address/ 

This was said chiefly for the sake of saying some- 
thing ; but Charlotte directly saw that it was laying 
her open to suspicion, by Lady Denham's giving a 
shrewd glance at her, and replying, 

1 Yes, yes ; he's very well to look at ; and it is to 
be hoped that somebody of large fortune will think 
so ; for Sir Edward must marry for money. He and 
I often talk that matter over. A handsome young 
man like him will go smirking and smiling about, 
and paying girls compliments, but he knows he must 
marry for money. And Sir Edward is a very steady 
young man, in the main, and has got very good 

1 Sir Edward Denham/ said Charlotte, ' with such 
personal advantages, may be almost sure of getting a 
woman of fortune, if he chooses it/ 

This glorious sentiment seemed quite to remove 

' Aye, my dear, that is very sensibly said ; and 

190 A Memoir of 

if we could but get a young heiress to Sanditon ! 
But heiresses are monstrous scarce ! I do not think 
we have had an heiress here, nor even a Co., since 
Sanditon has been a public place. Families come 
after families, but, as far as I can learn, it is not one 
in a hundred of them that have any real property, 
landed or funded. An income, perhaps, but no pro- 
perty. Clergymen, may be, or lawyers from town, 
or half-pay officers, or widows with only a jointure ; 
and what good can such people do to anybody? 
Except just as they take our empty houses, and 
(between ourselves) I think they are great fools for 
not staying at home. Now, if we could get a young 
heiress to be sent here for her health, and, as soon as 
she got well, have her fall in love with Sir Edward ! 
And Miss Esther must marry somebody of fortune, 
too. She must get a rich husband. Ah! young 
ladies that have no money are very much to be 
pitied/ After a short pause : * If Miss Esther thinks 
to talk me into inviting them to come and stay 
at Sanditon House, she will find herself mistaken. 
Matters are altered with me since last summer, you 
know : I have Miss Clara with me now, which makes 
a great difference. I should not choose to have my 
two housemaids' time taken up all the morning in 
dusting out bedrooms. They have Miss Clara's room 
to put to rights, as well as mine, every day. If they 
had hard work, they would want higher wages.' 

Charlotte's feelings were divided between amuse- 
ment and indignation. She kept her countenance, 
and kept a civil silence ; but without attempting to 

Jane Austen. 191 

listen any longer, and only conscious that Lady 
Denham was still talking in the same way, allowed 
her own thoughts to form themselves into such 
meditation as this : — ' She is thoroughly mean ; I had 
no expectation of anything so bad. Mr. Parker spoke 
too mildly of her. He is too kind-hearted to see 
clearly, and their very connection misleads him. He 
has persuaded her to engage in the same speculation, 
and because they have so far the same object in 
view, he fancies that she feels like him in other 
things ; but she is very, very mean. I can see no 
good in her. Poor Miss Brereton ! And it makes 
everybody mean about her. This poor Sir Edward 
and his sister! how far nature meant them to be 
respectable I cannot tell ; but they are obliged to be 
mean in their servility to her ; and I am mean, too, 
in giving her my attention with the appearance of 
coinciding with her. Thus it is when rich people are 

Mr. Parker has two unmarried sisters of singular 
character. They live together ; Diana, the younger, 
always takes the lead, and the elder follows in the 
same track. It is their pleasure to fancy themselves 
invalids to a degree and in a manner never expe- 
rienced by others ; but, from a state of exquisite pain 
and utter prostration, Diana Parker can always rise to 
be officious in the concerns of all her acquaintance, 
and to make incredible exertions where they are not 

It would seem that they must be always either 
very busy for the good of others, or else extremely 

192 A Memoir of 

ill themselves. Some natural delicacy of constitu- 
tion, in fact, with an unfortunate turn for medicine, 
especially quack medicine, had given them an early 
tendency at various times to various disorders. The 
rest of their suffering was from their own fancy, the 
love of distinction, and the love of the wonderful. 
They had charitable hearts and many amiable feel- 
ings ; but a spirit of restless activity, and the glory of 
doing more than anybody else, had a share in every 
exertion of benevolence, and there was vanity in all 
they did, as well as in all they endured. 

These peculiarities come out in the following letter 
of Diana Parker to her brother : — 

' My dear Tom, — We were much grieved at your 
accident, and if you had not described yourself as 
having fallen into such very good hands, I should have 
been with you at all hazards the day after receipt 
of your letter, though it found me suffering under a 
more severe attack than usual of my old grievance, 
spasmodic bile, and hardly able to crawl from my 
bed to the sofa. But how were you treated ? Send 
me more particulars in your next. If indeed a 
simple sprain, as you denominate it, nothing would 
have been so judicious as friction — friction by the 
hand alone, supposing it could be applied imme- 
diately. Two years ago I happened to be calling on 
Mrs. Sheldon, when her coachman sprained his foot, 
as he was cleaning the carriage, and could hardly 
limp into the house ; but by the immediate use of 
friction alone, steadily persevered in (I rubbed his 

Jane Austen* 193 

ancle with my own hands for four hours without 
intermission), he was well in three days. . . . Pray 
never run into peril again in looking for an apothe- 
cary on our account ; for had you the most ex- 
perienced man in his line settled at Sanditon, it 
would be no recommendation to us. We have en- 
tirely done with the whole medical tribe. We have 
consulted physician after physician in vain, till we 
are quite convinced that they can do nothing for us, 
and that we must trust to our knowledge of our 
own wretched constitutions for any relief; but if you 
think it advisable for the interests of the place to get 
a medical man there, I will undertake the com- 
mission with pleasure, and have no doubt of succeed- 
ing. I could soon put the necessary irons in the 
fire. As for getting to Sanditon myself, it is an 
impossibility. I grieve to say that I cannot attempt 
it, but my feelings tell me too plainly that in my 
present state the sea-air would probably be the death 
of me ; and in truth I doubt whether Susan's nerves 
would be equal to the effort. She has been suffer- 
ing much from headache, and six leeches a day, for 
ten days together, relieved her so little that we 
thought it right to change our measures ; and being 
convinced on examination that much of the evil lay 
in her gums, I persuaded her to attack the disorder 
there. She has accordingly had three teeth drawn, 
and is decidedly better ; but her nerves are a good 
deal deranged, she can only speak in a whisper, and 
fainted away this morning on poor Arthur's trying to 
suppress a cough.' 


194 A Memoir of 

Within a week of the date of this letter, in spite 
of the impossibility of moving, and of the fatal effects 
to be apprehended from the sea-air, Diana Parker 
was at Sanditon with her sister. She had flattered 
herself that by her own indefatigable exertions, and 
by setting at work the agency of many friends, she 
had induced two large families to take houses at 
Sanditon. It was to expedite these politic views that 
she came ; and though she met with some disappoint- 
ment of her expectation, yet she did not suffer in 

Such were some of the dramatis persona, ready 
dressed and prepared for their parts. They are at 
least original and unlike any that the author had 
produced before. The success of the piece must 
have depended on the skill with which these parts 
might be played ; but few will be inclined to dis- 
trust the skill of one who had so often succeeded. 
If the author had lived to complete her work, it is 
probable that these personages might have grown 
into as mature an individuality of character, and 
have taken as permanent a place amongst our familiar 
acquaintance, as Mr. Bennet, or John Thorp, Mary 
Musgrove, or Aunt Norris herself. 

Jane A listen. 195 



WHEN first I was asked to put together a memoir of 
my aunt, I saw reasons for declining the attempt. 
It was not only that, having passed the three score 
years and ten usually allotted to man's strength, 
and being unaccustomed to write for publication, I 
might well distrust my ability to complete the work, 
but that I also knew the extreme scantiness of the 
materials out of which it must be constructed. The 
grave closed over my aunt fifty-two years ago ; and 
during that long period no idea of writing her life 
had been entertained by any of her family. Her 
nearest relatives, far from making provision for such 
a purpose, had actually destroyed many of the letters 
and papers by which it might have been facilitated. 
They were influenced, I believe, partly by an ex- 
treme dislike to publishing private details, and partly 
by never having assumed that the world would take 
so strong and abiding an interest in her works as to 
claim her name as public property. It was therefore 
necessary for me to draw upon recollections rather 
than on written documents for my materials ; while 
the subject itself supplied me with nothing striking 

ig6 A Memoir of 

or prominent with which to arrest the attention of 
the reader. It has been said that the happiest in- 
dividuals, like nations during their happiest periods, 
have no history. In the case of my aunt, it was not 
only that her course of life was unvaried, but that 
her own disposition was remarkably calm and even. 
There was in her nothing eccentric or angular; no 
ruggedness of temper ; no singularity of manner ; 
none of the morbid sensibility or exaggeration of 
feeling, which not unfrequently accompanies great 
talents, to be worked up into a picture. Hers was 
a mind well balanced on a basis of good sense, 
sweetened by an affectionate heart, and regulated by 
fixed principles ; so that she was to be distinguished 
from many other amiable and sensible women only 
by that peculiar genius which shines out clearly 
enough in her works, but of which a biographer can 
make little use. The motive which at last induced 
me to make the attempt is exactly expressed in the 
passage prefixed to these pages. I thought that I 
saw something to be done : knew of no one who 
could do it but myself, and so was driven to the 
enterprise. I am glad that I have been able to 
finish my work. As a family record it can scarcely 
fail to be interesting to those relatives who must 
ever set a high value on their connection with Jane 
Austen, and to them I especially dedicate it ; but as 
I have been asked to do so, I also submit it to the 
censure of the public, with all its faults both of 
deficiency and redundancy. I know that its value in 
their eyes must depend, not on any merits of its 

Jane Austen. 197 

own, but on the degree of estimation in which my 
aunt's works may still be held ; and indeed I shall 
esteem it one of the strongest testimonies ever borne 
to her talents, if for her sake an interest can be taken 
in so poor a sketch as I have been able to draw. 

Bray Vicarage: 
Sept. 7, 1869. 


I HAVE lately received permission to print the 
following tale from the author's niece, Lady Knatch- 
bull, of Provender, in Kent, to whom the autograph 
copy was given. I am not able to ascertain when it 
was composed. Her family have always believed it 
to be an early production. Perhaps she wrote it as 
an experiment in conducting a story by means of 
letters. It was not, however, her only attempt of 
that kind; for 'Sense and Sensibility ' was first 
written in letters ; but as she afterwards re-wrote one 
of these works and never published the other, it is 
probable that she was not quite satisfied with the 
result. The tale itself is scarcely one on which a 
literary reputation could have been founded : but 
though, like some plants, it may be too slight to 
stand alone, it may, perhaps, be supported by the 
strength of her more firmly rooted works. At any 
rate, it cannot diminish Jane Austen's reputation as 
a writer ; for even if it should be judged unworthy of 
the publicity now given to it, the censure must fall on 
him who has put it forth, not on her who kept it 
locked up in her desk. 





Lady Susan Vernon to Mr. Vernon. 

Langford, Dec. 

Y dear Brother, — I can no longer re- 
fuse myself the pleasure of profiting by 
your kind invitation when we last parted 
of spending some weeks with you at 
Churchhill, and, therefore, if quite convenient to you 
and Mrs. Vernon to receive me at present, I shall 
hope within a few days to be introduced to a 
sister whom I have so long desired to be acquainted 
with. My kind friends here are most affectionately 
urgent with me to prolong my stay, but their hos- 
pitable and cheerful dispositions lead them too much 
into society for my present situation and state of 
mind ; and I impatiently look forward to the hour 
when I shall be admitted into your delightful re- 

I long to be made known to your dear little children, 
in whose hearts I shall be very eager to secure an 
interest. I shall soon have need for all my fortitude, 

204 Lady Susan. 

as I am on the point of separation from my own 
daughter. The long illness of her dear father pre- 
vented my paying her that attention which duty and 
affection equally dictated, and I have too much reason 
to fear that the governess to whose care I consigned 
her was unequal to the charge. I have therefore 
resolved on placing her at one of the best private 
schools in town, where I shall have an opportunity of 
leaving her myself in my way to you. I am deter- 
mined, you see, not to be denied admittance at 
Churchhill. It would indeed give me most painful 
sensations to know that it were not in your power to 
receive me. 

Your most obliged and affectionate Sister, 

S. Vernon. 


Lady Susan Vernon to Mrs. Johnson. 


You were mistaken, my dear Alicia, in supposing 
me fixed at this place for the rest of the winter : it 
grieves me to say how greatly you were mistaken, 
for I have seldom spent three months more agreeably 
than those which have just flown away. At present, 
nothing goes smoothly ; the females of the family 
are united against me. You foretold how it would be 
when I first came to Langford, and Mainwaring is so 
uncommonly pleasing that I was not without appre- 
hensions for myself. I remember saying to myself, 
as I drove to the house, ' I like this man, pray 

Lady Susan. 205 

Heaven no harm come of it ! ' But I was determined 
to be discreet, to bear in mind my being only four 
months a widow, and to be as quiet as possible : and 
I have been so, my dear creature ; I have admitted 
no one's attentions but Mainwaring's. I have avoided 
all general flirtation whatever ; I have distinguished 
no creature besides, of all the numbers resorting 
hither, except Sir James Martin, on whom I bestowed 
a little notice, in order to detach him from Miss 
Mainwaring ; but, if the world could know my motive 
there they would honour me. I have been called an 
unkind mother, but it was the sacred impulse of 
maternal affection, it was the advantage of my 
daughter that led me on ; and if that daughter were 
not the greatest simpleton on earth, I might have 
been rewarded for my exertions as I ought. 

Sir James did make proposals to me for Frederica ; 
but Frederica, who was born to be the torment of my 
life, chose to set herself so violently against the match 
that I thought it better to lay aside the scheme for 
the present I have more than once repented that I 
did not marry him myself; and were he but one 
degree less contemptibly weak I certainly should : 
but I must own myself rather romantic in that 
respect, and that riches only will not satisfy me. 
The event of all this is very provoking : Sir James is 
gone, Maria highly incensed, and Mrs. Mainwaring 
insupportably jealous ; so jealous, in short, and so- 
enraged against me, that, in the fury of her temper, I 
should not be surprised at her appealing to her guardian, 
if she had the liberty of addressing him : but there 

206 Lady Susan. 

your husband stands my friend ; and the kindest, 
most amiable action of his life was his throwing her 
off for ever on her marriage. Keep up his resent- 
ment, therefore, I charge you. We are now in a sad 
state ; no house was ever more altered ; the whole 
party are at war, and Mainwaring scarcely dares 
speak to me. It is time for me to be gone ; I have 
therefore determined on leaving them, and shall 
spend, I hope, a comfortable day with you in town 
within this week. If I am as little in favour with 
Mr. Johnson as ever, you must come to me at 10 
Wigmore Street; but I hope this may not be the 
case, for as Mr. Johnson, with all his faults, is a man 
to whom that great word 'respectable' is always given, 
and I am known to be so intimate with his wife, his 
slighting me has an awkward look. 

I take London in my way to that insupportable 
spot, a country village ; for I am really going to 
Churchhill. Forgive me, my dear friend, it is my 
last resource. Were there another place in England 
open to me I would prefer it. Charles Vernon is my 
aversion, and I am afraid of his wife. At Churchhill, 
however, I must remain till I have something better 
in view. My young lady accompanies me to town, 
where I shall deposit her under the care of Miss 
Summers, in Wigmore Street, till she becomes a little 
more reasonable. She will make good connections 
there as the girls are all of the best families. The 
price is immense, and much beyond what I can ever 
attempt to pay. 

Lady Sits an. 207 

Adieu, I will send you a line as soon as I arrive 
in town. 

Yours ever, 

S. Vernon. 


Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy. 


My dear Mother,— I am very sorry to tell you that 
it will not be in our power to keep our promise of 
spending our Christmas with you ; and we are pre- 
vented that happiness by a circumstance which is not 
likely to make us any amends. Lady Susan, in a 
letter to her brother-in-law, has declared her intention 
of visiting us almost immediately ; and as such a visit 
is in all probability merely an affair of convenience, it 
is impossible to conjecture its length. I was by no 
means prepared for such an event, nor can I now ac- 
count for her ladyship's conduct ; Langford appeared 
so exactly the place for her in every respect, as well 
from the" elegant and expensive style of living there, 
as from her particular attachment to Mr. Mainwaring, 
that I was very far from expecting so speedy a dis- 
tinction, though I always imagined from her increasing 
friendship for us since her husband's death that we 
should, at some future period, be obliged to receive her. 
Mr. Vernon, I think, was a great deal too kind to her 
when he was in Staffordshire ; her behaviour to him, 
independent of her general character, has been so in- 
excusably artful and ungenerous since our marriage 

208 Lady Susan. 

was first in agitation that no one less amiable and 
mild than himself could have overlooked it all ; and 
though, as his brother's widow, and in narrow cir- 
cumstances, it was proper to render her pecuniary- 
assistance, I cannot help thinking his pressing invi- 
tation to her to visit us at Churchhill perfectly 
unnecessary. Disposed, however, as he always is to 
think the best of everyone, her display of grief, and 
professions of regret, and general resolutions of 
prudence, were sufficient to soften his heart and make 
him really confide in her sincerity; but, as for myself, 
I am still unconvinced, and plausibly as her ladyship 
has now written, I cannot make up my mind till I 
better understand her real meaning in coming to us. 
You may guess, therefore, my dear madam, with what 
feelings I look forward to her arrival. She will have 
occasion for all those attractive powers for which she 
is celebrated to gain any share of my regard ; and I 
shall certainly endeavour to guard myself against their 
influence, if not accompanied by something more sub- 
stantial. She expresses a most eager desire of being 
acquainted with me, and makes very gracious mention 
of my children, but I am not quite weak enough to 
suppose a woman who has behaved with inattention, 
if not with unkindness to her own child, should be 
attached to any of mine. Miss Vernon is to be placed 
at a school in London before her mother comes to us, 
which I am glad of, for her sake and my own. It 
must be to her advantage to be separated from her 
mother, and a girl of sixteen who has received so 
wretched an education, could not be a very desirable 

Lady Susan. 209 

companion here. Reginald has long wished, I know, 
to see the captivating Lady Susan, and we shall 
depend on his joining our party soon. I am glad to 
hear that my father continues so well ; and am, with 

best love, &c, 

Catherine Vernon. 


Mr, De Courcy to Mrs. Vernon. 


My dear Sister, — I congratulate you and Mr. Vernon 
on being about to receive into your family the most 
accomplished coquette in England. As a very dis- 
tinguished flirt I have always been taught to consider 
her, but it has lately fallen in my way to hear some 
particulars of her conduct at Langford, which prove 
that she does not confine herself to that sort of honest 
flirtation which satisfies most people, but aspires to 
the more delicious gratification of making a whole 
family miserable. By her behaviour to Mr. Main- 
waring she gave jealousy and wretchedness to his 
wife, and by her attentions to a young man previously 
attached to Mr. Mainwaring's sister deprived an 
amiable girl of her lover. 

I learnt all this from Mr. Smith, now in this neigh- 
bourhood (I have dined with him, at Hurst and 
Wilford), who is just come from Langford where he 
was a fortnight with her ladyship, and who is there- 
fore well qualified to make the communication. 

What a woman she must be ! I long to see her, and 

2IO Lady Susan. 

shall certainly accept your kind invitation, that I may 
form some idea of those bewitching powers which can 
do so much — engaging at the same time, and in the 
same house, the affections of two men, who were 
neither of them at liberty to bestow them — and all 
this without the charm of youth ! I am glad to find 
Miss Vernon does not accompany her mother to 
Churchhill, as she has not even manners to recom- 
mend her ; and, according to Mr. Smith's account, is 
equally dull and proud. Where pride and stupidity 
unite there can be no dissimulation worthy notice, and 
Miss Vernon shall be consigned to unrelenting con- 
tempt; but by all that I can gather Lady Susan 
possesses a degree of captivating deceit which it must 
be pleasing to witness and detect. I shall be with 
you very soon, and am ever, 

Your affectionate Brother, 


Lady Susan Vernon to Mrs. Johnson. 

I received your note, my dear Alicia, just before I 
left town, and rejoice to be assured that Mr. Johnson 
suspected nothing of your engagement the evening 
before. It is undoubtedly better to deceive him 
entirely, and since he will be stubborn he must be 
* tricked. I arrived here in safety, and have no reason 
to complain of my reception from Mr. Vernon ; but I 
confess myself not equally satisfied with the behaviour 

Lady Susan. 21 1 

of his lady. She is perfectly well-bred, indeed, and 
has the air of a woman of fashion, but her manners 
are not such as can persuade me of her being pre- 
possessed in my favour. I wanted her to be delighted 
at seeing me. I was as amiable as possible on the 
occasion, but all in vain. She does not like me. To 
be sure when we consider that I did take some pains 
to prevent my brother-in-law's marrying her, this want 
of cordiality is not very surprising, and yet it shows 
an illiberal and vindictive spirit to resent a project 
which influenced me six years ago, and which never 
succeeded at last. 

I am sometimes disposed to repent that I did not 
let Charles buy Vernon Castle, when we were obliged 
to sell it ; but it was a trying circumstance, especially 
as the sale took place exactly at the time of his 
marriage ; and everybody ought to respect the delicacy 
of those feelings which could not endure that my 
husband's dignity should be lessened by his younger 
brother's having possession of the family estate. 
Could matters have been so arranged as to prevent 
the necessity of our leaving the castle, could we have 
lived with Charles and kept him single, I should have 
been very far from persuading my husband to dispose 
of it elsewhere ; but Charles was on the point of 
marrying Miss De Courcy, and the event has justified 
me. Here are children in abundance, and what 
benefit could have accrued to me from his purchasing 
Vernon ? My having prevented it may perhaps have 
given his wife an unfavourable impression, but where 
there is a disposition to dislike, a motive will never be 

212 Lady Sits an. 

wanting ; and as to money matters it has not withheld 
him from being very useful to me. I really have a 
regard for him, he is so easily imposed upon ! The 
house is a good one, the furniture fashionable, and 
everything announces plenty and elegance. Charles 
is very rich I am sure ; when a man has once got his 
name in a banking-house he rolls in money ; but they 
do not know what to do with it, keep very little 
company, and never go to London but on business. 
We shall be as stupid as possible. I mean to win my 
sister-in-law's heart through the children ; I know all 
their names already, and am going to attach myself 
with the greatest sensibility to one in particular, a 
young Frederic, whom I take on my lap and sigh 
over for his dear uncle's sake. 

Poor Mainwaring ! I need not tell you how much I 
miss him, how perpetually he is in my thoughts. I 
found a dismal letter from him on my arrival here, 
full of complaints of his wife and sister, and lamenta- 
tions on the cruelty of his fate. I passed off the 
letter as his wife's, to the Vernons, and when I write 
to him it must be under cover to you. 

Ever yours, 

S. Vernon. 
Mrs. Vernon to Mr. De Convey. 


Well, my dear Reginald, I have seen this danger- 
ous creature, and must give you some description of 
her, though I hope you will soon be able to form your 
own judgment. She is really excessively pretty ; 

Lady Susan. 213 

however you may choose to question the allurements 
of a lady no longer young, I must, for my own part, 
declare that I have seldom seen so lovely a woman 
as Lady Susan. She is delicately fair, with fine grey 
eyes and dark eyelashes ; and from her appearance 
one would not suppose her more than five and twenty, 
though she must in fact be ten years older. I was cer- 
tainly not disposed to admire her, though always hear- 
ing she was beautiful ; but I cannot help feeling that 
she possesses an uncommon union of symmetry, bril- 
liancy, and grace. Her address to me was so gentle, 
frank, and even affectionate, that, if I had not known 
how much she has always disliked me for marrying 
Mr. Vernon, and that we had never met before, I 
should have imagined her an attached friend. One is 
apt, I believe, to connect assurance of manner with 
coquetry, and to expect that an impudent address 
will naturally attend an impudent mind ; at least I 
was myself prepared for an improper degree of confi- 
dence in Lady Susan ; but her countenance is abso- 
lutely sweet, and her voice and manner winningly 
mild. I am sorry it is so, for what is this but deceit? 
Unfortunately, one knows her too well. She is clever 
and agreeable, has all that knowledge of the world 
which makes conversation easy, and talks very well, 
with a happy command of language, which is too 
often used, I believe, to make black appear white. 
She has already almost persuaded me of her being 
warmly attached to her daughter, though I have been 
so long convinced to the contrary. She speaks of her 
with so much tenderness and anxiety, lamenting so 

214 Lady Susan. 

bitterly the neglect of her education, which she repre- 
sents however as wholly unavoidable, that I am forced 
to recollect how many successive springs her ladyship 
spent in town, while her daughter was left in Stafford- 
shire to the care of servants, or a governess very little 
better, to prevent my believing what she says. 

If her manners have so great an influence on my 
resentful heart, you may judge how much more 
strongly they operate on Mr. Vernon's generous tem- 
per. I wish I could be as well satisfied as he is, that 
it was really her choice to leave Langford for Church- 
hill ; and if she had not stayed there for months 
before she discovered that her friend's manner of 
living did not suit her situation or feelings, I might 
have believed that concern for the loss of such a hus- 
band as Mr. Vernon, to whom her own behaviour was 
far from unexceptionable, might for a time make her 
wish for retirement. But I cannot forget the length 
of her visit to the Mainwarings, and when I reflect on 
the different mode of life which she led with them 
from that to which she must now submit, I can only 
suppose that the wish of establishing her reputation 
by following though late the path of propriety, occa- 
sioned her removal from a family where she must in 
reality have been particularly happy. Your friend 
Mr. Smith's story, however, cannot be quite correct, 
as she corresponds regularly with Mrs. Mainwaring. 
At any rate it must be exaggerated. It is scarcely 
possible that two men should be so grossly deceived 
by her at once. 

Yours, &c, Catherine Vernon. 

Lady Susan. 215 


Lady Susan Vernon to Mrs. Johnson. 


My dear Alicia, — You are very good in taking 
notice of Frederica, and I am grateful for it as a mark 
of your friendship ; but as I cannot have any doubt 
of the warmth of your affection, I am far from exact- 
ing so heavy a sacrifice. She is a stupid girl, and has 
nothing to recommend her. I would not, therefore, 
on my account, have you encumber one moment of 
your precious time by sending for her to Edward 
Street, especially as every visit is so much deducted 
from the grand affair of education, which I really 
wish to have attended to while she remains at Miss 
Summers'. I want her to play and sing with some 
portion of taste and a good deal of assurance, as she 
has my hand and arm and a tolerable voice. I was 
so much indulged in my infant years that I was never 
obliged to attend to anything, and consequently am 
without the accomplishments which are now necessary 
to finish a pretty woman. Not that I am an advo- 
cate for the prevailing fashion of acquiring a perfect 
knowledge of all languages, arts, and sciences. It is 
throwing time away to be mistress of French, Italian, 
and German: music, singing, and drawing, &c, will gain 
a woman some applause, but will not add one lover to 
her list — grace and manner, after all, are of the great- 
est importance. I do not mean, therefore, that Frede- 
rica's acquirements should be more than superficial, 

216 Lady Susan. 

and I flatter myself that she will not remain long 
enough at school to understand anything thoroughly. 
I hope to see her the wife of Sir James within a 
twelvemonth. You know on what I ground my hope, 
and it is certainly a good foundation, for school 
must be very humiliating to a girl of Fredericks age. 
And, by-the-by, you had better not invite her any 
more on that account, as I wish her to find her situa- 
tion as unpleasant as possible. I am sure of Sir 
James at any time, and could make him renew his 
application by a line. I shall trouble you meanwhile 
to prevent his forming any other attachment when he 
comes to town. Ask him to your house occasionally, 
and talk to him of Frederica, that he may not forget 
her. Upon the whole, I commend my own conduct 
in this affair extremely, and regard it as a very happy 
instance of circumspection and tenderness. Some 
mothers would have insisted on their daughter's ac- 
cepting so good an offer on the first overture ; but I 
could not reconcile it to myself to force Frederica into 
a marriage from which her heart revolted, and instead 
of adopting so harsh a measure merely propose to 
make it her own choice, by rendering her thoroughly 
uncomfortable till she does accept him — but enough 
of this tiresome girl. You may well wonder how I 
contrive to pass my time here, and for the first week 
it was insufferably dull. Now, however, we begin to 
mend, our party is enlarged by Mrs. Vernon's brother, 
a handsome young man, who promises me some 
amusement There is something about him which 
rather interests me, a sort of sauciness and familiarity 

Lady Susan. 217 

which I shall teach him to correct. He is lively, and 
seems clever, and when I have inspired him with 
greater respect for me than his sister's kind offices 
have implanted, he may be an agreeable flirt. There 
is exquisite pleasure in subduing an insolent spirit, 
in making a person predetermined to dislike acknow- 
ledge one's superiority. I have disconcerted him 
already by my calm reserve, and it shall be my en- 
deavour to humble the pride of these self-important 
De Courcys still lower, to convince Mrs. Vernon that 
her sisterly cautions have been bestowed in vain, and 
to persuade Reginald that she has scandalously belied 
me. This project will serve at least to amuse me, and 
prevent my feeling so acutely this dreadful separation 
from you and all whom I love. 

Yours ever, 

S. Vernon. 


Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy. 


My dear Mother, — You must not expect Reginald 
back again for some time. He desires me to tell you 
that the present open weather induces him to accept 
Mr. Vernon's invitation to prolong his stay in Sussex, 
that they may have some hunting together. He 
means to send for his horses immediately, and it is 
impossible to say when you may see him in Kent. I 
will not disguise my sentiments on this change from 
you, my dear mother, though I think you had better 

2i8 Lady Susan. 

not communicate them to my father, whose excessive 
anxiety about Reginald would subject him to an 
alarm which might seriously affect his health and 
spirits. Lady Susan has certainly contrived, in the 
space of a fortnight, to make my brother like her. In 
short, I am persuaded that his continuing here beyond 
the time originally fixed for his return is occasioned 
as much by a degree of fascination towards her, as by 
the wish of hunting with Mr. Vernon, and of course I 
cannot receive that pleasure from the length of his 
visit which my brother's company would otherwise give 
me. I am, indeed, provoked at the artifice of this 
unprincipled woman ; what stronger proof of her dan- 
gerous abilities can be given than this perversion of 
Reginald's judgment, which when he entered the 
house was so decidedly against her ? In his last letter 
he actually gave me some particulars of her behaviour 
at Langford, such as he received from a gentleman 
who knew her perfectly well, which, if true, must raise 
abhorrence against her, and which Reginald himself 
was entirely disposed to credit His opinion of her, 
I am sure, was as low as of any woman in England ; 
and when he first came it was evident that he consi- 
dered her as one entitled neither to delicacy nor re- 
spect, and that he felt she would be delighted with 
the attentions of any man inclined to flirt with her. 
Her behaviour, I confess, has been calculated to do 
away with such an idea ; I have not detected the 
smallest impropriety in it — nothing of vanity, of pre- 
tension, of levity ; and she is altogether so attractive 
that I should not wonder at his being delighted with 

Lady Susan. 219 

her, had he known nothing of her previous to this 
personal acquaintance ; but, against reason, against 
conviction, to be so well pleased with her, as I am 
sure he is, does really astonish me. His admiration 
was at first very strong, but no more than was natural, 
and I did not wonder at his being much struck by the 
gentleness and delicacy of her manners ; but when he 
has mentioned her of late it has been in terms of more 
extraordinary praise ; and yesterday he actually said 
that he could not be surprised at any effect produced 
on the heart of man by such loveliness and such abi- 
lities ; and when I lamented, in reply, the badness of 
her disposition, he observed that whatever might have 
been her errors they were to be imputed to her neg- 
lected education and early marriage, and that she 
was altogether a wonderful woman. This tendency 
to excuse her conduct, or to forget it, in the warmth 
of admiration, vexes me ; and if I did not know that 
Reginald is too much at home at Churchhill to need 
an invitation for lengthening his visit, I should regret 
Mr. Vernon's giving him any. Lady Susan's inten- 
tions are of course those of absolute coquetry, or a 
desire of universal admiration ; I cannot for a moment 
imagine that she has anything more serious in view ; 
but it mortifies me to see a young man of Reginald's 
sense duped by her at all. 

I am, &c, 

Catherine Vernon. 

220 Lady Susan. 


Mrs. Johfison to Lady S. Vernon. 

Edward Street. 

My dearest Friend, — I congratulate you on Mr. De 
Courcy's arrival, and I advise you by all means to 
marry him ; his father's estate is, we know, consider- 
able, and I believe certainly entailed. Sir Reginald 
is very infirm, and not likely to stand in your way 
long. I hear the young man well spoken of ; and 
though no one can really deserve you, my dearest 
Susan, Mr. De Courcy may be worth having. Main- 
waring will storm of course, but you may easily pacify 
him ; besides, the most scrupulous point of honour 
could not require you to wait for his emancipation. I 
have seen Sir James ; he came to town for a few days 
last week, and called several times in Edward Street. 
I talked to him about you and your daughter, and he 
is so far from having forgotten you, that I am sure he 
would marry either of you with pleasure. I gave him 
hopes of Frederica's relenting, and told him a great 
deal of her improvements. I scolded him for making 
love to Maria Mainwaring ; he protested that he had 
been only in joke, and we both laughed heartily at 
her disappointment ; and, in short, were very agree- 
able. He is as silly as ever. 

Yours faithfully, 


Lady Susan. 221 


Lady Susan Vernon. to Mrs. Johnson. 


I am much obliged to you, my dear friend, for 
your advice respecting Mr. De Courcy, which I know 
was given with the full conviction of its expediency, 
though I am not quite determined on following it. 
I cannot easily resolve on anything so serious as 
marriage ; especially as I am not at present in want 
of money, and might perhaps, till the old gentleman's 
death, be very little benefited by the match. It is true 
that I am vain enough to believe it within my reach. 
I have made him sensible of my power, and can now 
enjoy the pleasure of triumphing over a mind pre- 
pared to dislike me, and prejudiced against all my 
past actions. His sister, too, is, I hope, convinced 
how little the ungenerous representations of anyone 
to the disadvantage of another will avail when op- 
posed by the immediate influence of intellect and 
manner. I see plainly that she is uneasy at my 
progress in the good opinion of her brother, and 
conclude that nothing will be wanting on her part to 
counteract me ; but having once made him doubt 
the justice of her opinion of me, I think I may defy 
her. It has been delightful to me to watch his ad- 
vances towards intimacy, especially to observe his 
altered manner in consequence of my repressing by 
the cool dignity of my deportment his insolent ap- 
proach to direct familiarity. My conduct has been 

222 Lady Susan. 

equally guarded from the first, and I never behaved 
less like a coquette in the whole course of my life, 
though perhaps my desire of dominion was never 
more decided. I have subdued him entirely by 
sentiment and serious conversation, and made him, 
I may venture to say, at least half in love with me, 
without the semblance of the most commonplace 
flirtation. Mrs. Vernon's consciousness of deserving 
every sort of revenge that it can be in my power to 
inflict for her ill-offices could alone enable her to 
perceive that I am actuated by any design in be- 
haviour so gentle and unpretending. Let her think 
and act as she chooses, however. I have never yet 
found that the advice of a sister could prevent a 
young man's being in love if he chose. We are 
advancing now to some kind of confidence, and in 
short are likely to be engaged in a sort of platonic 
friendship. On my side you may be sure of its never 
being more, for if I were not attached to another 
person as much as I can be to anyone, I should 
make a point of not bestowing my affection on a 
man who had dared to think so meanly of me. 
Reginald has a good figure and is not unworthy 
the praise you have heard given him, but is still 
greatly inferior to our friend at Langford. He is less 
polished, less insinuating than Mainwaring, and is 
comparatively deficient in the power of saying those 
delightful things which put one in good humour with 
oneself and all the world. He is quite agreeable 
enough, however, to afford me amusement, and to 
make many of those hours pass very pleasantly 

Lady Susan. 223 

which would otherwise be spent in endeavouring to 
overcome my sister-in-law's reserve, and listening to 
the insipid talk of her husband. Your account of 
Sir James is most satisfactory, and I mean to give 
Miss Frederica a hint of my intentions very soon. 

Yours, &c., 

S. Vernon. 


Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy. 

I really grow quite uneasy, my dearest mother, about 
Reginald, from witnessing the very rapid increase of 
Lady Susan's influence. They are now on terms of 
the most particular friendship, frequently engaged in 
long conversations together; and she has contrived 
by the most artful coquetry to subdue his judgment 
to her own purposes. It is impossible to see the 
intimacy between them so very soon established 
without some alarm, though I can hardly suppose 
that Lady Susan's plans extend to marriage. I wish 
you could get Reginald home again on any plausible 
pretence ; he is not at all disposed to leave us, and I 
have given him as many hints of my father's pre- 
carious state of health as common decency will allow 
me to do in my own house. Her power over him 
must now be boundless, as she has entirely effaced all 
his former ill-opinion, and persuaded him not merely 
to forget but to justify her conduct. Mr. Smith's 
account of her proceedings at Langford, where he 

224 Lady Susan. 

accused her of having made Mr. Mainwaring and a 
young man engaged to Miss Mainwaring distractedly 
in love with her, which Reginald firmly believed 
when he came here, is now, he is persuaded, only a 
scandalous invention. He has told me so with a 
warmth of manner which spoke his regret at having 
believed the contrary himself. How sincerely do I 
grieve that she ever entered this house ! I always 
looked forward to her coming with uneasiness ; but 
very far was it from originating in anxiety for Regi- 
nald. I expected a most disagreeable companion 
for myself, but could not imagine that my brother 
would be in the smallest danger of being captivated 
by a woman with whose principles he was so well ac- 
quainted, and whose character he so heartily despised. 
If you can get him away it will be a good thing. 
Yours, &c, 

Catherine Vernon. 

Sir Reginald De Courcy to his Son, 


I know that young men in general do not admit 
of any enquiry even from their nearest relations into 
affairs of the heart, but I hope, my dear Reginald, 
that you will be superior to such as allow nothing for 
a father's anxiety > and think themselves privileged 
to refuse him their confidence and slight his advice. 
You must be sensible that as an only son, and the 
representative of an ancient family, your conduct in 

Lady Susan. 225 

life is most interesting to your connections ; and in 
the very important concern of marriage especially, 
there is everything at stake — your own happiness, 
that of your parents, and the credit of your name. I 
do not suppose that you would deliberately form an 
absolute engagement of that nature without acquaint- 
ing your mother and myself, or at least, without 
being convinced that we should approve of your 
choice ; but I cannot help fearing that you may be 
drawn in, by the lady who has lately attached you, 
to a marriage which the whole of your family, far 
and near, must highly reprobate. Lady Susan's age 
is itself a material objection, but her want of cha- 
racter is one so much more serious, that the difference 
of even twelve years becomes in comparison of small 
amount Were you not blinded by a sort of fasci- 
nation, it would be ridiculous in me to repeat the 
instances of great misconduct on her side so very 
generally known. 

Her neglect of her husband, her encouragement 
of other men, her extravagance and dissipation, were 
so gross and notorious that no one could be ignorant 
of them at the time, nor can now have forgotten 
them. To our family she has always been repre- 
sented in softened colours by the benevolence of Mr. 
Charles Vernon, and yet, in spite of his generous en- 
deavours to excuse her, we know that she did, from 
the most selfish motives, take all possible pains to 
prevent his marriage with Catherine. 

My years and increasing infirmities make me very 
desirous of seeing you settled in the world. To the 


226 Lady Susan. 

fortune of a wife, the goodness of my own will make 
me indifferent, but her family and character must be 
equally unexceptionable. When your choice is fixed 
so that no objection can be made to it, then I can 
promise you a ready and cheerful consent ; but it is 
my duty to oppose a match which deep art only 
could render possible, and must in the end make 
wretched. It is possible her behaviour may arise only 
from vanity, or the wish of gaining the admiration of 
a man whom she must imagine to be particularly 
prejudiced against her; but it is more likely that she 
should aim at something further. She is poor, and 
may naturally seek an alliance which must be ad- 
vantageous to herself; you know your own rights, 
and that it is out of my power to prevent your 
inheriting the family estate. My ability of distress- 
ing you during my life would be a species of revenge 
to which I could hardly stoop under any circum- 

I honestly tell you my sentiments and intentions : 
I do not wish to work on your fears, but on your 
sense and affection. It would destroy every comfort 
of my life to know that you were married to Lady 
Susan Vernon ; it would be the death of that honest 
pride with which I have hitherto considered my son ; 
I should blush to see him, to hear of him, to think of 
him. I may perhaps do no good but that of reliev- 
ing my own mind by this letter, but I felt it my duty 
to tell you that your partiality for Lady Susan is no 
secret to your friends, and to warn you against her. 
I should be glad to hear your reasons for disbelieving 

Lady Susan. 227 

Mr. Smith's intelligence ; you had no doubt of its 
authenticity a month ago. If you can give me your 
assurance of having no design beyond enjoying the 
conversation of a clever woman for a short period, 
and of yielding admiration only to her beauty and 
abilities, without being blinded by them to her faults, 
you will restore me to happiness ; but, if you cannot 
do this, explain to me, at least, what has occasioned 
so great an alteration in your opinion of her. 
I am, &c, &c, 

Reginald De Courcy. 


Lady De Courcy to Mrs. Vernoji. 


My dear Catherine, — Unluckily I was confined to 
my room when your last letter came, by a cold which 
affected my eyes so much as to prevent my reading 
it myself, so I could not refuse your father when he 
offered to read it to me, by which means he became 
acquainted, to my great vexation, with all your 
fears about your brother. I had intended to write 
to Reginald myself as soon as my eyes would let 
me, to point out, as well as I could, the danger of an 
intimate acquaintance, with so artful a woman as 
Lady Susan, to a young man of his age, and high 
expectations. I meant, moreover, to have reminded 
him of our being quite alone now, and very much in 
need of him to keep up our spirits these long winter 
evenings. Whether it would have done any good 


228 Lady Susan. 

can never be settled now, but I am excessively vexed 
that Sir Reginald should know anything of a matter 
which we foresaw would make him so uneasy. He 
caught all your fears the moment he had read your 
letter, and I am sure he has not had the business 
out of his head since. He wrote by the same post 
to Reginald a long letter full of it all, and particu- 
larly asking an explanation of what he may have 
heard from Lady Susan to contradict the late shock- 
ing reports. His answer came this morning, which I 
shall enclose to you, as I think you will like to see 
it. I wish it was more satisfactory ; but it seems 
written with such a determination to think well of 
Lady Susan, that his assurances as to marriage, &c, 
do not set my heart at ease. I say all I can, how- 
ever, to satisfy your father, and he is certainly less 
uneasy since Reginald's letter. How provoking it 
is, my dear Catherine, that this unwelcome guest of 
yours should not only prevent our meeting this 
Christmas, but be the occasion of so much vexation 
and trouble ! Kiss the dear children for me. 
Your affectionate mother, 

C. De Courcy. 


Mr. De Courcy to Sir Reginald. 


My dear Sir, — I have this moment received your 
letter, which has given me more astonishment than I 

Lady Susan. 229 

ever felt before. I am to thank my sister, I suppose, 
for having represented me in such a light as to injure 
me in your opinion, and give you all this alarm. I 
know not why she should choose to make herself and 
her family uneasy by apprehending an event which 
no one but herself, I can affirm, would ever have 
thought possible. To impute such a design to Lady 
Susan would be taking from her every claim to that 
excellent understanding which her bitterest enemies 
have never denied her; and equally low must sink 
my pretensions to common sense if I am suspected 
of matrimonial views in my behaviour to her. Our 
difference of age must be an insuperable objection, 
and I entreat you, my dear father, to quiet your 
mind, and no longer harbour a suspicion which can- 
not be more injurious to your own peace than to our 
understandings. I can have no other view in re- 
maining with Lady Susan, than to enjoy for a short 
time (as you have yourself expressed it) the con- 
versation of a woman of high intellectual powers. If 
Mrs. Vernon would allow something to my affection 
for herself and her husband in the length of my visit, 
she would do more justice to us all ; but my sister is 
unhappily prejudiced beyond the hope of conviction 
against Lady Susan. From an attachment to her 
husband, which in itself does honour to both, she 
cannot forgive the endeavours at preventing their 
union, which have been attributed to selfishness in 
Lady Susan ; but in this case, as well as in many 
others, the world has most grossly injured that lady, 
by supposing the worst where the motives of her 

2 so Lady Susan. 

conduct have been doubtful. Lady Susan had heard 
something so materially to the disadvantage of my 
sister as to persuade her that the happiness of Mr. 
Vernon, to whom she was always much attached, 
would be wholly destroyed by the marriage. And 
this circumstance, while it explains the true motives 
of Lady Susan's conduct, and removes all the blame 
which has been so lavished on her, may also con- 
vince us how little the general report of anyone 
ought to be credited ; since no character, however 
upright, can escape the malevolence of slander. If 
my sister, in the security of retirement, with as little 
opportunity as inclination to do evil, could not avoid 
censure, we must not rashly condemn those who, 
living in the world and surrounded with temptations, 
should be accused of errors which they are known to 
have the power of committing. 

I blame myself severely for having so easily be- 
lieved the slanderous tales invented by Charles Smith 
to the prejudice of Lady Susan, as I am now con- 
vinced how greatly they have traduced her. As to 
Mrs. Mainwaring's jealousy it was totally his own 
invention, and his account of her attaching Miss 
Mainwaring's lover was scarcely better founded. Sir 
James Martin had been drawn in by that young lady 
to pay her some attention ; and as he is a man of 
fortune, it was easy to see her views extended to 
marriage. It is well known that Miss M. is absolutely 
on the catch for a husband, and no one therefore 
can pity her for losing, by the superior attractions of 
another woman, the chance of being able to make a 

Lady Susan. 231 

worthy man completely wretched. Lady Susan was 
far from intending such a conquest, and on finding 
how warmly Miss Mainwaring resented her lover's 
defection, determined, in spite of Mr. and Mrs. Main- 
waring's most urgent entreaties, to leave the family. 
I have reason to imagine she did receive serious pro- 
posals from Sir James, but her removing to Langford 
immediately on the discovery of his attachment, must 
acquit her on that article with any mind of common 
candour. You will, I am sure, my dear Sir, feel the 
truth of this, and will hereby learn to do justice to 
the character of a very injured woman. I know that 
Lady Susan in coming to Churchhill was governed 
only by the most honourable and amiable intentions ; 
her prudence and economy are exemplary, her regard 
for Mr. Vernon equal even to his deserts ; and her 
wish of obtaining my sister's good opinion merits a 
better return than it has received. As a mother she 
is unexceptionable ; her solid affection for her child 
is shown by placing her in hands where her education 
will be properly attended to ; but because she has 
not the blind and weak partiality of most mothers, 
she is accused of wanting maternal tenderness. Every 
person of sense, however, will know how to value and 
commend her well-directed affection, and will join 
me in wishing that Frederica Vernon may prove 
more worthy than she has yet done of her mother's 
tender care. I have now, my dear father, written my 
real sentiments of Lady Susan ; you will know from 
this letter how highly I admire her abilities, and 
esteem her character; but if you are not equally 

232 Lady Susan. 

convinced by my full and solemn assurance that 
your fears have been most idly created, you will 
deeply mortify and distress me. 

I am, &c, &c, 



Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Cowry. 


My dear Mother, — I return you Reginald's letter, 
and rejoice with all my heart that my father is made 
easy by it : tell him so, with my congratulations ; 
but, between ourselves, I must own it has only con- 
vinced me of my brother's having no present in- 
tention of marrying Lady Susan, not that he is in 
no danger of doing so three months hence. He 
gives a very plausible account of her behaviour at 
Langford ; I wish it may be true, but his intelli- 
gence must come from herself, and I am less disposed 
to believe it than to lament the degree of intimacy 
subsisting between them implied by the discussion of 
such a subject. I am sorry to have incurred his dis- 
pleasure, but can expect nothing better while he is so 
very eager in Lady Susan's justification. He is very 
severe against me indeed, and yet I hope I have not 
been hasty in my judgment of her. Poor woman ! 
though I have reasons enough for my dislike, I can- 
not help pitying her at present, as she is in real 
distress, and with too much cause. She had this 
morning a letter from the lady with whom she has 

Lady Susan, 233 

placed her daughter, to request that Miss Vernon 
might be immediately removed, as she had been de- 
tected in an attempt to run away. Why, or whither 
she intended to go, does not appear ; but, as her situ- 
ation seems to have been unexceptionable, it is a sad 
thing, and of course highly distressing to Lady Susan. 
Frederica must be as much as sixteen, and ought to 
know better ; but from what her mother insinuates, 
I am afraid she is a perverse girl. She has been 
sadly neglected, however, and her mother ought to 
remember it. Mr. Vernon set off for London as 
soon as she had determined what should be done. 
He is, if possible, to prevail on Miss Summers to let 
Frederica continue with her ; and if he cannot succeed, 
to bring her to Churchhill for the present, till some 
other situation can be found for her. Her ladyship is 
comforting herself meanwhile by strolling along the 
shrubbery with Reginald, calling forth all his tender 
feelings, I suppose, on this distressing occasion. She 
has been talking a great deal about it to me. She 
talks vastly well ; I am afraid of being ungenerous, or 
I should say, too well to feel so very deeply ; but I 
will not look for faults ; she may be Reginald's wife ! 
Heaven forbid it ! but why should I be quicker-sighted 
than anyone else ? Mr. Vernon declares that he never 
saw deeper distress than hers, on the receipt of the 
letter; and is his judgment inferior to mine? She 
was very unwilling that Frederica should be allowed 
to come to Churchhill, and justly enough, as it seems 
a sort of reward to behaviour deserving very differ- 
ently ; but it was impossible to take her anywhere 

234 Lady Susan. 

else, and she is not to remain here long. ' It will be 
absolutely necessary/ said she, * as you, my dear sister, 
must be sensible, to treat my daughter with some 
severity while she is here ; a most painful necessity, 
but I will endeavour to submit to it. I am afraid I 
have often been too indulgent, but my poor Fre- 
derica's temper could never bear opposition well : you 
must support and encourage me ; you must urge the 
necessity of reproof if you see me too lenient.' All 
this sounds very reasonably. Reginald is so incensed 
against the poor silly girl ! Surely it is not to Lady 
Susan's credit that he should be so bitter against her 
daughter ; his idea of her must be drawn from the 
mother's description. Well, whatever may be his 
fate, we have the comfort of knowing that we have 
done our utmost to save him. We must commit the 
event to a higher power. 

Yours ever, &c. 

Catherine Vernon. 


Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson. 


Never, my dearest Alicia, was I so provoked in my 
life as by a letter this morning from Miss Summers. 
That horrid girl of mine has been trying to run away. 
I had not a notion of her being such a little devil 
before, she seemed to have all the Vernon milkiness ; 
but on receiving the letter in which I declared my 
intention about Sir James, she actually attempted to 

Lady Susan. 235 

elope ; at least, I cannot otherwise account for her 
doing it. She meant, I suppose, to go to the Clarks 
in Staffordshire, for she has no other acquaintances. 
But she shall be punished, she shall have him. I 
have sent Charles to town to make matters up if he 
can, for I do not by any means want her here. If 
Miss Summers will not keep her, you must find me 
out another school, unless we can get her married 
immediately. Miss S. writes word that she could 
not get the young lady to assign any cause for her 
extraordinary conduct, which confirms me in my own 
previous explanation of it. Frederica is too shy, I 
think, and too much in awe of me to tell tales, but if 
the mildness of her uncle should get anything out of 
her, I am not afraid. I trust I shall be able to make 
my story as good as hers. If I am vain of anything, 
it is of my eloquence. Consideration and esteem as 
surely follow command of language as admiration 
waits on beauty, and here I have opportunity enough 
for the exercise of my talent, as the chief of my time 
is spent in conversation. 

Reginald is never easy unless we are by ourselves, 
and when the weather is tolerable, we pace the shrub- 
bery for hours together. I like him on the whole 
very well ; he is clever and has a good deal to say, 
but he is sometimes impertinent and troublesome. 
There is a sort of ridiculous delicacy about him 
which requires the fullest explanation of whatever he 
may have heard to my disadvantage, and is never 
satisfied till he thinks he has ascertained the begin- 
ning and end of everything. This is one sort of love, 

2$6 Lady Susan. 

but I confess it does not particularly recommend 
itself to me. I infinitely prefer the tender and liberal 
spirit of Mainwaring, which, impressed with the 
deepest conviction of my merit, is satisfied that what- 
ever I do must be right ; and look with a degree of 
contempt on the inquisitive and doubtful fancies of 
that heart which seems always debating on the rea- 
sonableness of its emotions. Mainwaring is indeed, 
beyond all compare, superior to Reginald — superior 
in everything but the power of being with me ! Poor 
fellow ! he is much distracted by jealousy, which I 
am not sorry for, as I know no better support of love. 
He has been teazing me to allow of his coming into 
this country, and lodging somewhere near incog. ; but 
I forbade everything of the kind. Those women are 
inexcusable who forget what is due to themselves, and 
the opinion of the world. 

Yours ever, 

S. Vernon. 


Mrs, Vernon to Lady De Courcy. 


My dear Mother, — Mr. Vernon returned on Thurs- 
day night, bringing his niece with him. Lady Susan 
had received a line from him by that day's post, 
informing her that Miss Summers had absolutely 
refused to allow of Miss Vernon's continuance in her 
academy ; we were therefore prepared for her arrival, 
and expected them impatiently the whole evening. 

Lady Susan, 237* 

They came while we were at tea, and I never saw 
any creature look so frightened as Frederica when 
she entered the room. Lady Susan, who had been 
shedding tears before, and showing great agitation 
at the idea of the meeting, received her with perfect 
self-command, and without betraying the least tender- 
ness of spirit. She hardly spoke to her, and on 
Fredericks bursting into tears as soon as we were 
seated, took her out of the room, and did not return 
for some time. When she did, her eyes looked 
very red, and she was as much agitated as before. 
We saw no more of her daughter. Poor Reginald 
was beyond measure concerned to see his fair friend 
in such distress, and watched her with so much tender 
solicitude, that I, who occasionally caught her observ- 
ing his countenance with exultation, was quite out 
of patience. This pathetic representation lasted the 
whole evening, and so ostentatious and artful a display 
has entirely convinced me that she did in fact feel 
nothing. I am more angry with her than ever since I 
have seen her daughter ; the poor girl looks so unhappy 
that my heart aches for her. Lady Susan is surely 
too severe, for Frederica does not seem to have the 
sort of temper to make seventy necessary. She looks 
perfectly timid, dejected, and penitent. She is very 
pretty, though not so handsome as her mother, nor at 
all like her. Her complexion is delicate, but neither 
so fair nor so blooming as Lady Susan's, and she has 
quite the Vernon cast of countenance, the oval face 
and mild dark eyes, and there is peculiar sweetness 
in her look when she speaks either to her uncle or 

238 Lady Susan, 

me, for as we behave kindly to her we have of course 
engaged her gratitude. 

Her mother has insinuated that her temper is in- 
tractable, but I never saw a face less indicative of 
any evil disposition than hers ; and from what I can 
see of the behaviour of each to the other, the invariable 
severity of Lady Susan and the silent dejection of 
Frederica, I am led to believe as heretofore that the 
former has no real love for her daughter, and has 
never done her justice or treated her affectionately. I 
have not been able to have any conversation with my 
niece ; she is shy, and I think I can see that some 
pains are taken to prevent her being much with me. 
Nothing satisfactory transpires as to her reason for 
running away. Her kind-hearted uncle, you may be 
sure, was too fearful of distressing her to ask many 
questions as they travelled. I wish it had been pos- 
sible for me to fetch her instead of him. I think I 
should have discovered the truth in the course of a 
thirty-mile journey. The small pianoforte has been 
removed within these few days, at Lady Susan's re- 
quest, into her dressing-room, and Frederica spends 
great part of the day there, practising as it is called ; 
but I seldom hear any noise when I pass that way ; 
what she does with herself there I do not know. 
There are plenty of books, but it is not every girl 
who has been running wild the first fifteen years of 
her life, that can or will read. Poor creature ! the 
prospect from her window is not very instructive, for 
that room overlooks the lawn, you know, with the 
shrubbery on one side, where she may see her mother 

Lady Susan, 239 

walking for an hour together in earnest conversation 
with Reginald. A girl of Fredericks age must be 
childish indeed, if such things do not strike her. Is 
it not inexcusable to give such an example to a 
daughter ? Yet Reginald still thinks Lady Susan the 
best of mothers, and still condemns Frederica as a 
worthless girl ! He is convinced that her attempt to 
run away proceeded from no justifiable cause, and had 
no provocation. I am sure I cannot say that it had, 
but while Miss Summers declares that Miss Vernon 
showed no signs of obstinacy or perverseness during 
her whole stay in Wigmore Street, till she was de- 
tected in this scheme, I cannot so readily credit 
what Lady Susan has made him, and wants to make 
me believe, that it was merely an impatience of 
restraint and a desire of escaping from the tuition of 
masters which brought on the plan of an elopement. 
O Reginald, how is your judgment enslaved ! He 
scarcely dares even allow her to be handsome, and 
when I speak of her beauty, replies only that her 
eyes have no brilliancy ! Sometimes he is sure she 
is deficient in understanding, and at others that her 
temper only is in fault. In short, when a person is 
always to deceive, it is impossible to be consistent. 
Lady Susan finds it necessary that Frederica should 
be to blame, and probably has sometimes judged it 
expedient to excuse her of ill-nature and sometimes 
to lament her want of sense. Reginald is only re- 
peating after her ladyship. 

I remain, &c, &c, 

Catherine Vernon. 

240 Lady Susan. 


From the same to the same. 


My dear Mother, — I am very glad to find that my 
description of Frederica Vernon has interested you, 
for I do believe her truly deserving of your regard ; 
and when I have communicated a notion which has 
recently struck me, your kind impressions in her 
favour will, I am sure, be heightened. I cannot help 
fancying that she is growing partial to my brother. 
I so very often see her eyes fixed on his face with 
a remarkable expression of pensive admiration. He 
is certainly very handsome ; and yet more, there is 
an openness in his manner that must be highly pre- 
possessing, and I am sure she feels it so. Thought- 
ful and pensive in general, her countenance always 
brightens into a smile when Reginald says anything 
amusing ; and, let the subject be ever so serious that 
he may be conversing on, I am much mistaken if a 
syllable of his uttering escapes her. I want to make 
him sensible of all this, for we know the power of 
gratitude on such a heart as his ; and could Frederica's 
artless affection detach him from her mother, we 
might bless the day which brought her to Churchhill. 
I think, my dear mother, you would not disapprove 
of her as a daughter. She is extremely young, to be 
sure, has had a wretched education, and a dreadful 
example of levity in her mother ; but yet I can pro- 
nounce her disposition to be excellent, and her natural 
abilities very good. Though totally without accom- 

Lady Susan. 241 

plishments, she is by no means so ignorant as one 
might expect to find her, being fond of books and 
spending the chief of her time in reading. Her 
mother leaves her more to herself than she did, and 
I have her with me as much as possible, and have 
taken great pains to overcome her timidity. We are 
very good friends, and though she never opens her 
lips before her mother, she talks enough when alone 
with me to make it clear that, if properly treated by 
Lady Susan, she would always appear to much greater 
advantage. There cannot be a more gentle, affec- 
tionate heart ; or more obliging manners, when acting 
without restraint ; and her little cousins are all very 
fond of her. 

Your affectionate Daughter, 

C. Vernon 


Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson, 


You will be eager, I know, to hear something 
further of Frederica, and perhaps may think me 
negligent for not writing before. She arrived with her 
uncle last Thursday fortnight, when, of course, I lost 
no time in demanding the cause of her behaviour ; 
and soon found myself to have been perfectly right 
in attributing it to my own letter. The prospect of 
it frightened her so thoroughly, that, with a mixture of 
true girlish perverseness and folly, she resolved on 
getting out of the house and proceeding directly by 
the stage to her friends, the Clarkes ; and had really 


242 Lady Susan. 

got as far as the length of two streets in her journey 
when she was fortunately missed, pursued, and over- 
taken. Such was the first distinguished exploit of 
Miss Frederica Vernon ; and, if we consider that it 
was achieved at the tender age of sixteen, we shall 
have room for the most flattering prognostics of her 
future renown. I am excessively provoked, however, 
at the parade of propriety which prevented Miss 
Summers from keeping the girl; and it seems so 
extraordinary a piece of nicety, considering my 
daughter's family connections, that I can only suppose 
the lady to be governed by the fear of never getting 
her money. Be that as it may, however, Frederica 
is returned on my hands ; and, having nothing else 
to employ her, is busy in pursuing the plan of 
romance begun at Langford. She is actually falling 
in love with Reginald De Courcy ! To disobey her 
mother by refusing an unexceptionable offer is not 
enough ; her affections must also be given without her 
mother's approbation. I never saw a girl of her age 
bid fairer to be the sport of mankind. Her feelings 
are tolerably acute, and she is so charmingly artless 
in their display as to afford the most reasonable hope 
of her being ridiculous, and despised by every man 
who sees her. 

Artlessness will never do in love matters ; and 
that girl is born a simpleton who has it either by 
nature or affectation. I am not yet certain that Regi- 
nald sees what she is about, nor is it of much conse- 
quence. She is now an object of indifference to him, 
and she would be one of contempt were he to under- 

Lady Susan. 243 

stand her emotions. Her beauty is much admired 
by the Vernons, but it has no effect on him. She is 
in high favour with her aunt altogether, because she 
is so little like myself, of course. She is exactly the 
companion for Mrs. Vernon, who dearly loves to be 
first, and to have all the sense and all the wit of the 
conversation to herself: Frederica will never eclipse 
her. When she first came I was at some pains to 
prevent her seeing much of her aunt ; but I have re- 
laxed, as I believe I may depend on her observing 
the rules I have laid down for their discourse. But 
do not imagine that with all this lenity I have for a 
moment given up my plan of her marriage. No ; I am 
unalterably fixed on this point, though I have not yet 
quite decided on the manner of bringing it about. I 
should not choose to have the business brought on 
here, and canvassed by the wise heads of Mr. and 
Mrs. Vernon ; and I cannot just now afford to go to 
town. Miss Frederica must therefore wait a little. 

Yours ever, 

S. Vernon. 


Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy. 


We have a very unexpected guest with us at 
present, my dear mother : he arrived yesterday. I 
heard a carriage at the door, as I was sitting with my 
children while they dined ; and supposing I should be 
wanted, left the nursery soon afterwards, and was 
half-way down stairs, when Frederica, as pale as ashes. 

244 Lady Susan. 

came running up, and rushed by me into her own 
room. I instantly followed, and asked her what was 
the matter. ' Oh ! ' said she, ' he is come — Sir James 
is come, and what shall I do ? ' This was no expla- 
nation ; I begged her to tell me what she meant. At 
that moment we were interrupted by a knock at the 
door : it was Reginald, who came, by Lady Susan's 
direction, to call Frederica down. ' It is Mr. De 
Courcy ! ' said she, colouring violently. ' Mamma has 
sent for me; I must go/ We all three went down 
together ; and I saw my brother examining the terri- 
fied face of Frederica with surprise. In the breakfast- 
room we found Lady Susan, and a young man of 
gentlemanlike appearance, whom she introduced by 
the name of Sir James Martin — the very person, as 
you may remember, whom it was said she had been 
at pains to detach from Miss Mainwaring; but the 
conquest, it seems, was not designed for herself, or she 
has since transferred it to her daughter; for Sir James 
is now desperately in love with Frederica, and with 
full encouragement from mamma. The poor girl, 
however, I am sure, dislikes him ; and though his 
person and address are very well, he appears, both to 
Mr. Vernon and me, a very weak young man. Frede- 
rica looked so shy, so confused, when we entered the 
room, that I felt for her exceedingly. Lady Susan 
behaved with great attention to her visitor ; and yet 
I thought I could perceive that she had no particular 
pleasure in seeing him. Sir James talked a great 
deal, and made many civil excuses to me for the 
liberty he had taken in coming to Churchhill — mixing 

Lady Susan. 245 

more frequent laughter with his discourse than the 
subject required- — said many things over and over 
again, and told Lady Susan three times that he had 
seen Mrs. Johnson a few evenings before. He now 
and then addressed Frederica, but more frequently 
her mother. The poor girl sat all this time without 
opening her lips — her eyes cast down, and her colour 
varying every instant; while Reginald observed all 
that passed in perfect silence. At length Lady Susan, 
weary, I believe, of her situation, proposed walking ; 
and we left the two gentlemen together, to put on our 
pelisses. As we went upstairs Lady Susan begged 
permission to attend me for a few moments in my 
dressing-room, as she was anxious to speak with me 
in private. I led her thither accordingly, and as soon 
as the door was closed, she said : ' I was never more 
surprised in my life than by Sir James's arrival, and 
the suddenness of it requires some apology to you, 
my dear sister ; though to me, as a mother, it is 
highly flattering. He is so extremely attached to 
my daughter that he could not exist longer without 
seeing her. Sir James is a young man of an amiable 
disposition and excellent character ; a little too much 
of the rattle, perhaps, but a year or two will rectify 
that: and he is in other respects so very eligible a 
match for Frederica, that I have always observed his 
attachment with the greatest pleasure ; and am per- 
suaded that you and my brother will give the alliance 
your hearty approbation. I have never before men- 
tioned the likelihood of its taking place to anyone, 
because I thought that whilst Frederica continued at 

246 Lady Susan. 

school it had better not be known to exist ; but now, 
as I am convinced that Frederica is too old ever to 
submit to school confinement, and have, therefore, 
begun to consider her union with Sir James as not 
very distant, I had intended within a few days to ac- 
quaint yourself and Mr. Vernon with the whole busi- 
ness. I am sure, my dear sister, you will excuse my 
remaining silent so long, and agree with me that such 
circumstances, while they continue from any cause in 
suspense, cannot be too cautiously concealed. When 
you have the happiness of bestowing your sweet little 
Catherine, some years hence, on a man who in con- 
nection and character is alike unexceptionable, you 
will know what I feel now ; though, thank Heaven, 
you cannot have all my reasons for rejoicing in such 
arr event Catherine will be amply provided for, and 
not, like my Frederica, indebted to a fortunarte esta- 
blishment for the comforts of life.' She concluded by 
demanding my congratulations. I gave them some- 
what awkwardly, I believe ; for, in fact, the sudden 
disclosure of so important a matter took from me the 
power of speaking with any clearness. She thanked 
me, however, most affectionately, for my kind concern 
in the welfare of herself and daughter ; and then said : 
< I am not apt to deal in professions, my dear Mrs. 
Vernon, and I never had the convenient talent of 
affecting sensations foreign to my heart ; and therefore 
I trust you will believe me when I declare, that much 
as I had heard in your praise before I knew you, I 
had no idea that I should ever love you as I now do ; 
and I must further say that your friendship towards 

Lady Susan. 247 

me is more particularly gratifying because I have 
reason to believe that some attempts were made to 
prejudice you against me. I only wish that they, 
whoever they are, to whom I am indebted for such 
kind intentions, could see the terms on which we now 
are together, and understand the real affection we 
feel for each other; but I will not detain you any 
longer. God bless you, for your goodness to me and 
my girl, and continue to you all your present happi- 
ness.' What can one say of such a woman, my dear 
mother ? Such earnestness, such solemnity of expres- 
sion ! and yet I cannot help suspecting the truth of 
everything she says. As for Reginald, I believe he 
does not know what to make of the matter. When 
Sir James came, he appeared all astonishment and 
perplexity ; the folly of the young man and the con- 
fusion of Frederica entirely engrossed him ; and 
though a little private discourse with Lady Susan has 
since had its effect, he is still hurt, I am sure, at her 
allowing of such a man's attentions to her daughter. 
Sir James invited himself with great composure to 
remain here a few days — hoped we would not think 
it odd, was aware of its being very impertinent, but 
he took the liberty of a relation ; and concluded by 
wishing, with a laugh, that he might be really one 
very soon. Even Lady Susan seemed a little discon- 
certed by this forwardness; in her heart I am per- 
suaded she sincerely wished him gone. But something 
must be done for this poor girl, if her feelings are 
such as both I and her uncle believe them to be. She 
must not be sacrificed to policy or ambition, and she 

248 Lady Susan. 

must not be left to suffer from the dread of it. The 
girl whose heart can distinguish Reginald De Courcy, 
deserves, however he may slight her, a better fate 
than to be Sir James Martin's wife. As soon as I can 
get her alone, I will discover the real truth ; but she 
seems to wish to avoid me. I hope this does not 
proceed from anything wrong, and that I shall not 
find out I have thought too well of her. Her beha- 
viour to Sir James certainly speaks the greatest con- 
sciousness and embarrassment, but I see nothing in it 
more like encouragement. Adieu, my dear mother. 

Yours, &c. 

C. Vernon. 


Miss Vernon to Mr. De Courcy. 

Sir, — I hope you will excuse this liberty; I am 
forced upon it by the greatest distress, or I should be 
ashamed to trouble you. I am very miserable about 
Sir James Martin, and have no other way in the world 
of helping myself but by writing to you, for I am 
forbidden even speaking to my uncle and aunt on the 
subject ; and this being the case, I am afraid my ap- 
plying to you will appear no better than equivocation, 
and as if I attended to the letter and not the spirit of 
mamma's commands. But if you do not take my 
part and persuade her to break it off, I shall be half 
distracted, for I cannot bear him. No human being 
but you could have any chance of prevailing with her. 

Lady Susan. 249 

If you will, therefore, have the unspeakably great 
kindness of taking my part with her, and persuading 
her to send Sir James away, I shall be more obliged 
to you than it is possible for me to express. I always 
disliked him from the first : it is not a sudden fancy, 
I assure you, sir; I always thought him silly and 
impertinent and disagreeable, and now he is grown 
worse than ever. I would rather work for my bread 
than marry him. I do not know how to apologise 
enough for this letter ; I know it is taking so great a 
liberty. I am aware how dreadfully angry it will make 
mamma, but I remember the risk. 

I am, Sir, your most humble servant, 

F. S. V. 


Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson. 


This is insufferable ! My dearest friend, I was never 
so enraged before, and must relieve myself by writing 
to you, who I know will enter into all my feelings. 
Who should come on Tuesday but Sir James Martin ! 
Guess my astonishment, and vexation — for, as you 
well know, I never wished him to be seen at Church- 
hill What a pity that you should not have known 
his intentions ! Not content with coming, he actually 
invited himself to remain here a few days. I could 
have poisoned him ! I made the best of it, however, 
and told my story with great success to Mrs. Vernon, 
who, whatever might be her real sentiments, said 

250 Lady Susan. 

nothing in opposition to mine. I made a point also 
of Fredericks behaving civilly to Sir James, and gave 
her to understand that I was absolutely determined 
on her marrying him. She said something of her 
misery, but that was all. I have for some time been 
more particularly resolved on the match from seeing 
the rapid increase of her affection for Reginald, and 
from not feeling secure that a knowledge of such 
affection might not in the end awaken a return. Con- 
temptible as a regard founded only on compassion 
must make them both in my eyes, I felt by no 
means assured that such might not be the consequence. 
It is true that Reginald had not in any degree grown 
cool towards me ; but yet he has lately mentioned 
Frederica spontaneously and unnecessarily, and once 
said something in praise of her person. He was all 
astonishment at the appearance of my visitor, and at 
first observed Sir James with an attention which I was 
pleased to see not unmixed with jealousy ; but un- 
luckily it was impossible for me really to torment 
him, as Sir James, though extremely gallant to me, 
very soon made the whole party understand that his 
heart was devoted to my daughter. I had no great 
difficulty in convincing De Courcy, when we were 
alone, that I was perfectly justified, all things con- 
sidered, in desiring the match ; and the whole business 
seemed most comfortably arranged. They could none 
of them help perceiving that Sir James was no Solomon ; 
but I had positively forbidden Frederica complaining 
to Charles Vernon or his wife, and they had therefore 
no pretence for interference ; though my impertinent 

Lady Susan. 251 

sister, I believe, wanted only opportunity for doing 
so. Everything, however, was going on calmly and 
quietly ; and, though I counted the hours of Sir James's 
stay, my mind was entirely satisfied with the posture 
of affairs. Guess, then, what I must feel at the sudden 
disturbance of all my schemes j and that, too, from a 
quarter where I had least reason to expect it. Reginald 
came this morning into my dressing-room with a very 
unusual solemnity of countenance, and after some 
preface informed me in so many words that he wished 
to reason with me on the impropriety and unkindness 
of allowing Sir James Martin to address my daughter 
contrary to her inclinations. I was all amazement. 
When I found that he was not to be laughed out of his 
design, I calmly begged an explanation, and desired 
to know by what he was impelled, and by whom 
commissioned, to reprimand me. He then told me, 
mixing in his speech a few insolent compliments and 
ill-timed expressions of tenderness, to which I listened 
with perfect indifference, that my daughter had ac- 
quainted him with some circumstances concerning 
herself, Sir James, and me which had given him great 
uneasiness. In short, I found that she had in the first 
place actually written to him to request his interference, 
and that, on receiving her letter, he had conversed 
with her on the subject of it, in order to understand 
the particulars, and to assure himself of her real 
wishes. I have not a doubt but that the girl took 
this opportunity of making downright love to him. 
I am convinced of it by the manner in which he spoke 
of her. 'Much good may such love do him ! I shall 

252 Lady Susan. 

ever despise the man who can be gratified by the 
passion which he never wished to inspire, nor solicited 
the avowal of. I shall always detest them both. He 
can have no true regard for me, or he would not have 
listened to her; and she, with her little rebellious 
heart and indelicate feelings, to throw herself into the 
protection of a young man with whom she has scarcely 
ever exchanged two words before ! I am equally con- 
founded at her impudence and his credulity. How 
dared he believe what she told him in my disfavour ! 
Ought he not to have felt assured that I must have 
unanswerable motives for all that I had done ? Where 
was his reliance on my sense and goodness then ? 
Where the resentment which true love would have 
dictated against the person defaming me — that person, 
too, a chit, a child, without talent or education, whom 
he had been always taught to despise ? I was calm 
for some time ; but the greatest degree of forbearance 
may be overcome, and I hope I was afterwards suffi- 
ciently keen. He endeavoured, long endeavoured, to 
soften my resentment ; but that woman is a fool 
indeed who, while insulted by accusation, can be 
worked on by compliments. At length he left me, 
as deeply provoked as myself; and he showed his 
anger more. I was quite cool, but he gave way to 
the most violent indignation ; I may therefore expect 
it will the sooner subside, and perhaps his may 
be vanished for ever, while mine will be found still 
fresh and implacable. He is now shut up in his 
apartment, whither I heard him go on leaving mine. 
How unpleasant, one would think, must be his reflec- 

Lady Susan. 253 

tions! but some people's feelings are incomprehen- 
sible. I have not yet tranquillised myself enough to 
see Frederica. She shall not soon forget the occur- 
rences of this day ; she shall find that she has poured 
forth her tender tale of love in vain, and exposed 
herself for ever to the contempt of the whole world, 
and the severest resentment of her injured mother. 

Your affectionate 

S. Vernon. 


Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy. 

Let me congratulate you, my dearest mother ! The 
affair which has given us so much anxiety is drawing 
to a happy conclusion. Our prospect is most delight- 
ful, and since matters have now taken so favourable a 
turn, I am quite sorry that I ever imparted my appre- 
hensions to you ; for the pleasure of learning that the 
danger is over is perhaps dearly purchased by all that 
you have previously suffered. I am so much agitated 
by delight that I can scarcely hold a pen ; but am 
determined to send you a few short lines by James, 
that you may have some explanation of what must so 
greatly astonish you, as that Reginald should be re- 
turning to Parklands. I was sitting about half-an- 
hour ago with Sir James in the breakfast parlour, 
when my brother called me out of the room. I in- 
stantly saw that something was the matter ; his com- 
plexion was raised, and he spoke with great emotion ; 
you know his eager manner, my dear mother, when 

254 Lady Susan. 

his mind is interested. ' Catherine,' said he, ' I am 
going home to-day ; I am sorry to leave you, but I 
must go : it is a great while since I have seen my 
father and mother. I am going to send James forward 
with my hunters immediately ; if you have any letter, 
therefore, he can take it. I shall not be at home 
myself till Wednesday or Thursday, as I shall go 
through London, where I have business ; but before 
I leave you/ he continued, speaking in a lower tone, 
and with still greater energy, 'I must warn you of 
one thing — do not let Frederica Vernon be made un- 
happy by that Martin. He wants to marry her ; her 
mother promotes the match, but she cannot endure 
the idea of it. Be assured that I speak from the 
fullest conviction of the truth of what I say ; I knozv 
that Frederica is made wretched by Sir James's con- 
tinuing here. She is a sweet girl, and deserves a better 
fate. Send him away immediately ; he is only a fool : 
but what her mother can mean, Heaven only knows ! 
Good bye/ he added, shaking my hand with earnest- 
ness ; ' I do not know when you will see me again ; 
but remember what I tell you of Frederica ; you must 
make it your business to see justice done her. She is 
an amiable girl, and has a very superior mind to what 
we have given her credit for.' He then left me, and 
ran upstairs. I would not try to stop him, for I know 
what his feelings must be. The nature of mine, as I 
listened to him, I need not attempt to describe ; for a 
minute or two I remained in the same spot, over- 
powered by wonder of a most agreeable sort indeed ; 
yet it required some consideration to be tranquilly 

Lady Susan. 255 

happy. In about ten minutes after my return to the 
parlour Lady Susan entered the room. I concluded, 
of course, that she and Reginald had been quarrelling ; 
and looked with anxious curiosity for a confirmation of 
my belief in her face. Mistress of deceit, however, she 
appeared perfectly unconcerned, and after chatting on 
indifferent subjects for a short time, said to me, ' I find 
from Wilson that we are going to lose Mr. De Courcy 
— is it true that he leaves Churchhill this morning ? ' 
I replied that it was. ' He told us nothing of all this 
last night/ said she, laughing, ' or even this morning 
at breakfast ; but perhaps he did not know it himself. 
Young men are often hasty in their resolutions, and 
not more sudden in forming than unsteady in keeping 
them. I should not be surprised if he were to change 
his mind at last, and not go.' She soon afterwards 
left the room. I trust, however, my dear mother, that 
we have no reason to fear an alteration of his present 
plan; things have gone too far. They must have 
quarrelled, and about Frederica, too. Her calmness 
astonishes me. What delight will be yours in seeing 
him again ; in seeing him still worthy your esteem, 
still capable of forming your happiness ! When I 
next write I shall be able to tell you that Sir James 
is gone, Lady Susan vanquished, and Frederica at 
peace. We have much to do, but it shall be done. 
I am all impatience to hear how this astonishing 
change was effected. I finish as I began, with the 
warmest congratulations. 

Yours ever, &c, 

Cath. Vernon. 

256 Lady Susan. 


From the same to the same. 


Little did I imagine, my dear mother, when I sent 
off my last letter, that the delightful perturbation of 
spirits I was then in would undergo so speedy, so 
melancholy a reverse. I never can sufficiently regret 
that I wrote to you at all. Yet who could have 
foreseen what has happened ? My dear mother, every 
hope which made me so happy only two hours ago 
has vanished. The quarrel between Lady Susan and 
Reginald is made up, and we are all as we were before. 
One point only is gained. Sir James Martin is dis- 
missed. What are we now to look forward to ? I 
am indeed disappointed ; Reginald was all but gone, 
his horse was ordered and all but brought to the door ; 
who would not have felt safe ? For half an hour I 
was in momentary expectation of his departure. 
After I had sent off my letter to you, I went to Mr. 
Vernon, and sat with him in his room talking over 
the whole matter, and then determined to look for 
Frederica, whom I had not seen since breakfast. I 
met her on the stairs, and saw that she was crying. 
' My dear aunt/ said she, ' he is going — Mr. De Courcy 
is going, and it is all my fault. I am afraid you will 
be very angry with me, but indeed I had no idea it 
would end so/ ' My love/ I replied, ' do not think it 
necessary to apologise to me on that account. I shall 
feel myself under an obligation to anyone who is the 
means of sending my brother home, because/ recol- 

Lady Susan. 257 

lecting myself, ' I know my father wants very much 
to see him. But what is it you have done to occasion 
all this ? ' She blushed deeply as she answered : ' I 
was so unhappy about Sir James that I could not 
help — I have done something very wrong, I know ; 
but you have not an idea of the misery I have been 
in : and mamma had ordered me never to speak to you 
or my uncle about it, and — ' ' You therefore spoke to 
my brother to engage his interference/ said I, to save 
her the explanation. ' No, but I wrote to him — I 
did indeed, I got up this morning before it was light, 
and was two hours about it ; and when my letter 
was done I thought I never should have courage to 
give it. After breakfast, however, as I was going to my 
room, I met him in the passage, and then, as I knew 
that everything must depend on that moment, I forced 
myself to give it. He was so good as to take it imme- 
diately. I dared not look at him, and ran away directly. 
I was in such a fright I could hardly breathe. My dear 
aunt, you do not know how miserable I have been/ 
' Frederica/ said I, ' you ought to have told me all your 
distresses. You would have found in me a friend always 
ready to assist you. Do you think that your uncle 
or I should not have espoused your cause as warmly 
as my brother ? ' * Indeed, I did not doubt your kind- 
ness/ said she, colouring again, ' but I thought Mr. 
De Courcy could do anything with my mother ; but 
I was mistaken : they have had a dreadful quarrel 
about it, and he is going away. Mamma will never 
forgive me, and I shall be worse off than ever.' ' No, 
you shall not/ I replied ; ' in such a point as this your 


258 Lady Susan, 

mother's prohibition ought not to have prevented your 
speaking to me on the subject. She has no right to 
make you unhappy, and she shall not do it. Your 
applying, however, to Reginald can be productive only 
of good to all parties. I believe it is best as it is. 
Depend upon it that you shall not be made unhappy 
any longer.' At that moment how great was my 
astonishment at seeing Reginald come out of Lady 
Susan's dressing-room. My heart misgave me in- 
stantly. His confusion at seeing me was very evident. 
Frederica immediately disappeared. ' Are you going?' 
I said ; ' you will find Mr. Vernon in his own room.' 
' No, Catherine,' he replied, ' I am not going. Will 
you let me speak to you a moment ? ' We went into 
my room. ' 1 find/ he continued, his confusion in- 
creasing as he spoke, ' that I have been acting with 
my usual foolish impetuosity. I have entirely mis- 
understood Lady Susan, and was on the point of 
leaving the house under a false impression of her 
conduct. There has been some very great mistake ; 
we have been all mistaken, I fancy. Frederica does 
not know her mother. Lady Susan means nothing 
but her good, but she will not make a friend of her. 
Lady Susan does not always know, therefore, what 
wilL make her daughter happy. Besides, I could 
have no right to interfere. Miss Vernon was mis- 
taken in applying to me. In short, Catherine, every- 
thing has gone wrong, but it is now all happily set- 
tled. Lady Susan, I believe, wishes to speak to you 
about it, if you are at leisure.' ' Certainly,' I replied, 
deeply sighing at the recital of so lame a story. I 

Lady Susan, 259 

made no comments, however, for words would have 
been vain. 

Reginald was glad to get away, and I went to 
Lady Susan, curious, indeed, to hear her account of 
it. ' Did I not tell you/ said she with a smile, ' that 
your brother would not leave us after all ?' ' You did, 
indeed/ replied I very gravely ; 'but I flattered myself 
you would be mistaken/ * I should not have hazarded 
such an opinion/ returned she, ' if it had not at that 
moment occurred to me that his resolution of going 
might be occasioned by a conversation in which we 
had been this morning engaged, and which had ended 
very much to his dissatisfaction, from our not rightly 
understanding each other's meaning. This idea struck 
me at the moment, and I instantly determined that 
an accidental dispute, in which I might probably be 
as much to blame as himself, should not deprive you 
of your brother. If you remember, I left the room 
almost immediately. I was resolved to lose no time 
in clearing up those mistakes as far as I could. The 
case was this — Frederica had set herself violently 
against marrying Sir James.' 'And can your lady- 
ship wonder that she should ? ' cried I with some 
warmth ; ' Frederica has an excellent understanding, 
and Sir James has none/ ' I am at least very far 
from regretting it, my dear sister/ said she ; ' on the 
contrary, I am grateful for so favourable a sign of my 
daughter's sense. Sir James is certainly below par 
(his boyish manners make him appear worse) ; and 
had Frederica possessed the penetration and the 
abilities which I could have wished in my daughter, 

260 Lady Susan. 

or had I even known her to possess as much as she 
does, I should not have been anxious for the match/ 
' It is odd that you should alone be ignorant of your 
daughter's sense!' * Frederica never does justice to 
herself; her manners are shy and childish, and besides 
she is afraid of me. During her poor father's life she 
was a spoilt child; the severity which it has since 
been necessary for me to show has alienated her affec- 
tion ; neither has she any of that brilliancy of intellect, 
that genius or vigour of mind which will force itself 
forward.' ' Say rather that she has been unfortunate 
in her education ! ' ' Heaven knows, my dearest Mrs. 
Vernon, how fully I am aware of that ; but I would 
wish to forget every circumstance that might throw 
blame on the memory of one whose name is sacred 
with me.' Here she pretended to cry ; I was out of 
patience with her. 'But what,' said I, 'was your 
ladyship going to tell me about your disagreement 
with my brother ? ' 'It originated in an action of my 
daughter's, which equally marks her want of judgment 
and the unfortunate dread of me I have been men- 
tioning — she wrote to Mr. De Courcy.' ' I know she 
did ; you had forbidden her speaking to Mr. Vernon 
or to me on the cause of her distress ; what could she 
do, therefore, but apply to my brother?' 'Good 
God ! ' she exclaimed, ' what an opinion you must 
have of me ! Can you possibly suppose that I was 
aware of her unhappiness ? that it was my object to 
make my own child miserable, and that I had for- 
bidden her speaking to you on the subject from a fear 
of your interrupting the diabolical scheme ? Do you 

Lady Susan. 261 

think me destitute of every honest, every natural 
feeling? Am I capable of consigning her to ever- 
lasting misery whose welfare it is my first earthly 
duty to promote ? The idea is horrible ! ' ' What, then, 
was your intention when you insisted on her silence ?' 
* Of what use, my dear sister, could be any application 
to you, however the affair might stand ? Why should 
I subject you to entreaties which I refused to attend 
to myself? Neither for your sake nor for hers, nor 
for my own, could such a thing be desirable. When 
my own resolution was taken I could not wish for the 
interference, however friendly, of another person. I 
was mistaken, it is true, but I believed myself right.' 
' But what was this mistake to which your ladyship 
so often alludes ? from whence arose so astonishing a 
misconception of your daughter's feelings ? Did you 
not know that she disliked Sir James V 'I knew that 
he was not absolutely the man she would have 
chosen, but I was persuaded that her objections to 
him did not arise from any perception of his deficiency. 
You must not question me, however, my dear sister, 
too minutely on this point,' continued she, taking me 
affectionately by the hand ; 1 1 honestly own that there 
is something to conceal. Frederica makes me very 
unhappy ! Her applying to Mr. De Courcy hurt me 
particularly.' ' What is it you mean to infer,' said 
I, ' by this appearance of mystery ? If you think 
your daughter at all attached to Reginald, her ob- 
jecting to Sir James could not less deserve to be 
attended to than if the cause of her objecting had 
been a consciousness of his folly ; and why should 

262 Lady Susan. 

your ladyship, at any rate, quarrel with my brother 
for an interference which, you must know, it is not in 
his nature to refuse when urged in such a manner ? ' 

( His disposition, you know, is warm, and he came 
to expostulate with me ; his compassion all alive for 
this ill-used girl, this heroine in distress ! We mis- 
understood each other : he believed me more to 
blame than I really was ; I considered his inter- 
ference less excusable than I now find it. I have a 
real regard for him, and was beyond expression mor- 
tified to find it, as I thought, so ill bestowed. We 
were both warm, and of course both to blame. His 
resolution of leaving Churchhill is consistent with his 
general eagerness. When I understood his intention, 
however, and at the same time began to think that 
we had been perhaps equally mistaken in each other's 
meaning, I resolved to have an explanation before 
it was too late. For any member of your family I 
must always feel a degree of affection, and I own it 
would have sensibly hurt me if my acquaintance with 
Mr. De Courcy had ended so gloomily. I have now 
only to say further, that as I am convinced of 
Frederica's having a reasonable dislike to Sir James, 
I shall instantly inform him that he must give up 
all hope of her. I reproach myself for having even, 
though innocently, made her unhappy on that score. 
She shall have all the retribution in my power to 
make ; if she value her own happiness as much as I 
do, if she judge wisely, and command herself as she 
ought, she may now be easy. Excuse me, my dearest 
sister, for thus trespassing on your time, but I owe it 

Lady Susan. 263 

to my own character; and after this explanation I 
trust I am in no danger of sinking in your opinion.' 
I could have said, ' Not much, indeed ! ' but I left her 
almost in silence. It was the greatest stretch of for- 
bearance I could practise. I could not have stopped 
myself had I begun. Her assurance ! her deceit ! but 
I will not allow myself to dwell on them ; they will 
strike you sufficiently. My heart sickens within me. 
As soon as I was tolerably composed I returned to 
the parlour. Sir James's carriage was at the door, 
and he, merry as usual, soon afterwards took his 
leave. How easily does her ladyship encourage or 
dismiss a lover! In spite of this release, Frederica 
still looks unhappy: still fearful, perhaps, of her 
mother's anger; and though dreading my brother's 
departure, jealous, it may be, of his staying. I see 
how closely she observes him and Lady Susan, poor 
girl ! I have now no hope for her. There is not a 
chance of her affection being returned. He thinks 
very differently of her from what he used to do ; he 
does her some justice, but his reconciliation with her 
mother precludes every dearer hope. Prepare, my 
dear mother, for the worst ! The probability of their 
marrying is surely heightened ! He is more securely 
hers than ever. When that wretched event takes 
place, Frederica must belong wholly to us. I am 
thankful that my last letter will precede this by so 
little, as every moment that you can be saved from 
feeling a joy which leads only to disappointment is 
of consequence. 

Yours ever, &c. 

Catherine Vernon. 

264 Lady Susan. 


Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson. 


I call on you, dear Alicia, for congratulations : I 
am my ownself, gay and triumphant ! When I wrote 
to you the other day I was, in truth, in high irritation, 
and with ample cause. Nay, I know not whether I 
ought to be quite tranquil now, for I have had more 
trouble in restoring peace than I ever intended to 
submit to — a spirit, too, resulting from a fancied 
sense of superior integrity, which is peculiarly in- 
solent ! I shall not easily forgive him, I assure you. 
He was actually on the point of leaving Churchhill ! 
I had scarcely concluded my last, when Wilson 
brought me word of it. I found, therefore, that some- 
thing must be done ; for I did not choose to leave 
my character at the mercy of a man whose passions 
are so violent and so revengeful. It would have 
been trifling with my reputation to allow of his de- 
parting with such an impression in my disfavour ; in 
this light, condescension was necessary. I sent Wilson 
to say that I desired to speak with him before he 
went; he came immediately. The angry emotions 
which had marked every feature when we last parted 
were partially subdued. He seemed astonished at 
the summons, and looked as if half wishing and half 
fearing to be softened by what I might say. If my 
countenance expressed what I aimed at, it was com- 
posed and dignified ; and yet, with a degree of pen- 
siveness which might convince him that I was not 

Lady Susan. 265 

quite happy. ' I beg your pardon, sir, for the liberty 
I have taken in sending for you/ said I ; ' but as I 
have just learnt your intention of leaving this place 
to-day, I feel it my duty to entreat that you will not 
on my account shorten your visit here even an hour. 
I am perfectly aware that after what has passed 
between us it would ill suit the feelings of either to 
remain longer in the same house : so very great, so 
total a change from the intimacy of friendship must 
render any future intercourse the severest punish- 
ment; and your resolution of quitting Churchhill is 
undoubtedly in unison with our situation, and with 
those lively feelings which I know you to possess. 
But, at the same time, it is not for me to suffer such a 
sacrifice as it must be to leave relations to whom you 
are so much attached, and are so dear. My remaining 
here cannot give that pleasure to Mr. and Mrs. Vernon 
which your society must ; and my visit has already 
perhaps been too long. My removal, therefore, which 
must, at any rate, take place soon, may, with perfect 
convenience, be hastened ; and I make it my particular 
request that I may not in any way be instrumental 
in separating a family so affectionately attached to 
each other. Where I go is of no consequence to any- 
one ; of very little to myself; but you are of im- 
portance to all your connections.' Here I concluded, 
and I hope you will be satisfied with my speech. Its 
effect on Reginald justifies some portion of vanity, 
for it was no less favourable than instantaneous. Oh, 
how delightful it was to watch the variations of his 
countenance while I spoke ! to see the struggle be- 

266 Lady Susan. 

tween returning tenderness and the remains of dis- 
pleasure. There is something agreeable in feelings 
so easily worked on ; not that I envy him their pos- 
session, nor would, for the world, have such myself \ 
but they are very convenient when one wishes to 
influence the passions of another. And yet this 
Reginald, whom a very few words from me softened 
at once into the utmost submission, and rendered 
more tractable, more attached, more devoted than 
ever, would have left me in the first angry swelling of 
his proud heart without deigning to seek an explana- 
tion. Humbled as he now is, I cannot forgive him 
such an instance of pride, and am doubtful whether I 
ought not to punish him by dismissing him at once 
after this reconciliation, or by marrying and teazing 
him for ever. But these measures are each too violent 
to be adopted without some deliberation ; at present 
my thoughts are fluctuating between various schemes. 
I have many things to compass : I must punish Fre- 
derica, and pretty severely too, for her application to 
Reginald ; I must punish him for receiving it so 
favourably, and for the rest of his conduct. I must 
torment my sister-in-law for the insolent triumph of 
her look and manner since Sir James has been dis- 
missed ; for, in reconciling Reginald to me, I was not 
able to save that ill-fated young man; and I must 
make myself amends for the humiliation to which I 
have stooped within these few days. To effect all 
this I have various plans. I have also an idea of 
being soon in town ; and whatever may be my deter- 
mination as to the rest, I shall probably put that 

Lady Susan, 267 

project in execution ; for London will be always the 
fairest field of action, however my views may be 
directed ; and at any rate I shall there be rewarded 
by your society, and a little dissipation, for a ten 
weeks' penance at Churchhill. I believe I owe it to 
my character to complete the match between my 
daughter and Sir James after having so long in- 
tended it Let me know your opinion on this point. 
Flexibility of mind, a disposition easily biassed by 
others, is an attribute which you know I am not very 
desirous of obtaining ; nor has Frederica any claim 
to the indulgence of her notions at the expense of her 
mother's inclinations. Her idle love for Reginald, 
too ! It is surely my duty to discourage such ro- 
mantic nonsense. All things considered, therefore, it 
seems incumbent on me to take her to town and 
marry her immediately to Sir James. When my 
own will is effected contrary to his, I shall have some 
credit in being on good terms with Reginald, which 
at present, in fact, I have not ; for though he is still in 
my power, I have given up the very article by which 
our quarrel was produced, and at best the honour of 
victory is doubtful. Send me your opinion on all 
these matters, my dear Alicia, and let me know 
whether you can get lodgings to suit me within a 
short distance of you. 

Your most attached 

S. Vernon. 

268 Lady Stisan. 


Airs, Johnson to Lady Susan. 

Edward Street. 

I am gratified by your reference, and this is my 
advice : that you come to town yourself, without loss 
of time, but that you leave Frederica behind. It 
would surely be much more to the purpose to get 
yourself well established by marrying Mr. De Courcy, 
than to irritate him and the rest of his family by 
making her marry Sir James. You should think more 
of yourself and less of your daughter. She is not of 
a disposition to do you credit in the world, and seems 
precisely in her proper place at Churchhill, with the 
Vernons. But you are fitted for society, and it is 
shameful to have you exiled from it. Leave Frederica, 
therefore, to punish herself for the plague she has 
given you, by indulging that romantic tender-hearted- 
ness which will always ensure her misery enough, and 
come to London as soon as you can. I have another 
reason for urging this : Mainwaring came to town last 
week, and has contrived, in spite of Mr. Johnson, to 
make opportunities of seeing me. He is absolutely 
miserable about you, and jealous to such a degree of 
De Courcy that it would be highly unadvisable for 
them to meet at present And yet, if you do not 
allow him to see you here, I cannot answer for his 
not committing some great imprudence — such as going 
to Churchhill, for instance, which would be dreadful ! 
Besides, if you take my advice, and resolve to marry 

Lady Susan. 269/ 

De Courcy, it will be indispensably necessary to you 
to get Mainwaring out of the way ; and you only can 
have influence enough to send him back to his wife. 
I have still another motive for your coming : Mr. John- 
son leaves London next Tuesday ; he is going for his 
health to Bath, where, if the waters are favourable 
to his constitution and my wishes, he will be laid up 
with the gout many weeks. During his absence we 
shall be able to chuse our own society, and to have 
true enjoyment. I would ask you to Edward Street, 
but that once he forced from me a kind of promise never 
to invite you to my house ; nothing but my being in 
the utmost distress for money should have extorted it 
from me. I can get you, however, a nice drawing-room 
apartment in Upper Seymour Street, and we may be 
always together there or here ; for I consider my promise 
to Mr. Johnson as comprehending only (at least in his 
absence) your not sleeping in the house. Poor Main- 
waring gives me such histories of his wife's jealousy. 
Silly woman to expect constancy from so charming a 
man ! but she always was silly— intolerably so in marry- 
ing him at all, she the heiress of a large fortune and 
he without a shilling : one title, I know, she might have 
had, besides baronets. Her folly in forming the con- 
nection was so great that, though Mr. Johnson was her 
guardian, and I do not in general share Ms feelings, I 
never can forgive her. 

Adieu. Yours ever, 


270 Lady Susan. 

Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy. 


This letter, my dear mother, will be brought you by 
Reginald. His long visit is about to be concluded at 
last, but I fear the separation takes place too late to 
do us any good. She is going to London to see her 
particular friend, Mrs. Johnson. It was at first her 
intention that Frederica should accompany her, for 
the benefit of masters, but we overruled her there. 
Frederica was wretched in the idea of going, and I 
could not bear to have her at the mercy of her mother ; 
not all the masters in London could compensate for 
the ruin of her comfort. I should have feared, too, for 
her health, and for everything but her principles — there 
I believe she is not to be injured by her mother, or 
her mother's friends ; but with those friends she must 
have mixed (a very bad set, I doubt not), or have been 
left in total solitude, and I can hardly tell which would 
have been worse for her. If she is with her mother, 
moreover, she must, alas ! in all probability be with 
Reginald, and that would be the greatest evil of all. 
Here we shall in time be in peace, arid our regular 
employments, our books and conversations, with exer- 
cise, the children, and every domestic pleasure in my 
power to procure her, will, I trust, gradually overcome 
this youthful attachment. I should not have a doubt 
of it were she slighted for any other woman in the 
world than her own mother. How long Lady Susan 

Lady Susan. 271 

will be in town, or whether she returns here again, I 
know not I could not be cordial in my invitation, but 
if she chuses to come no want of cordiality on my part 
will keep her away. I could not help asking Reginald 
if he intended being in London this winter, as soon as 
I found her ladyship's steps would be bent thither; and 
though he professed himself quite undetermined, there 
was something in his look and voice as he spoke which 
contradicted his words. I have done with lamentation ; 
I look upon the event as so far decided that I resign 
myself to it in despair. If he leaves you soon for 
London everything will be concluded. 

Your affectionate, &c, 

C. Vernon. 


Mrs. Johnson to Lady Susan. 

Edward Street. 

My dearest Friend, — I write in the greatest distress ; 
the most unfortunate event has just taken place. Mr. 
Johnson has hit on the most effectual manner of 
plaguing us all. He had heard, I imagine, by some 
means or other, that you were soon to be in London, 
and immediately contrived to have such an attack of 
the gout as must at least delay his journey to Bath, 
if not wholly prevent it. I am persuaded the gout is 
brought on or kept off at pleasure ; it was the same 
when I wanted to join the Hamiltons to the Lakes ; 
and three years ago, when I had a fancy for Bath, 
nothing could induce him to have a gouty symptom. 

272 Lady Susan. 

I am pleased to find that my letter had so much 
effect on you, and that De Courcy is certainly your 
own. Let me hear from you as soon as you arrive, 
and in particular tell me what you mean to do with 
Mainwaring. It is impossible to say when I shall be 
able to come to you ; my confinement must be great- 
It is such an abominable trick to be ill here instead of 
at Bath that I can scarcely command myself at all. 
At Bath his old aunts would have nursed him, but here 
it all falls upon me; and he bears pain with such 
patience that I have not the common excuse for losing 
my temper. 

Yours ever, 



Lady Susan Vernon to Mrs. Johnson, 

Upper Seymour Street. 
$Ay dear Alicia, — There needed not this last fit of the 
gout to make me detest Mr. Johnson, but now the 
extent of my aversion is not to be estimated. To 
have you confined as nurse in his apartment ! My 
dear Alicia, of what a mistake were you guilty in 
marrying a man of his age ! just old enough to be 
formal, ungovernable, and to have the gout ; too old 
to be agreeable, too young to die. I arrived last 
night about five, had scarcely swallowed my dinner 
when Mainwaring made his appearance. I will not 
dissemble what real pleasure his sight afforded me, 
nor how strongly I felt the contrast between his person 

Lady Susan. 273 

and manners and those of Reginald, to the infinite 
disadvantage of the latter. For an hour or two I was 
even staggered in my resolution of marrying him, 
and though this was too idle and nonsensical an idea 
to remain long on my mind, I do not feel very eager 
for the conclusion of my marriage, nor look forward 
with much impatience to the time when Reginald, 
according to our agreement, is to be in town. I shall 
probably put off his arrival under some pretence or 
other. He must not come till Mainwaring is gone. I 
am still doubtful at times as to marrying ; if the old 
man would die I might not hesitate, but a state of 
dependance on the caprice of Sir Reginald will not 
suit the freedom of my spirit ; and if I resolve to wait 
for that event, I shall have excuse enough at present 
in having been scarcely ten months a widow. I have 
not given Mainwaring any hint of my intention, or 
allowed him to consider my acquaintance with Regi- 
nald as more than the commonest flirtation, and he is 
tolerably appeased. Adieu, till we meet ; I am en- 
chanted with my lodgings. 

Yours ever, 

S. Vernon. 


Lady Susan Vernon to Mr. de Courcy. 

Upper Seymour Street. 
I have received your letter, and though I do not 
attempt to conceal that I am gratified by your im- 
patience for the hour of meeting, I yet feel myself 


274 Lady Susan. 

under the necessity of delaying that hour beyond the 
time originally fixed. Do not think me unkind for 
such an exercise of my power, nor accuse me of in- 
stability without first hearing my reasons. In the 
course of my journey from Churchhill I had ample 
leisure for reflection on the present state of our affairs, 
and every review has served to convince me that they 
require a delicacy and cautiousness of conduct to which 
we have hitherto been too little attentive. We have 
been hurried on by our feelings to a degree of precipi- 
tation which ill accords with the claims of our friends 
or the opinion of the world. We have been unguarded 
in forming this hasty engagement, but we must not 
complete the imprudence by ratifying it while there 
is so much reason to fear the connection would be 
opposed by those friends on whom you depend. It is 
not for us to blame any expectations on your father's 
side of your marrying to advantage ; where posses- 
sions are so extensive as those of your family, the 
wish of increasing them, if not strictly reasonable, is 
too common to excite surprise or resentment. He has 
a right to require a woman of fortune in his daughter- 
in-law, and I am sometimes quarrelling with myself 
for suffering you to form a connection so imprudent ; 
but the influence of reason is often acknowledged too 
late by those who feel like me. I have now been but 
a few months a widow, and, however little indebted to 
my husband's memory for any happiness derived from 
him during a union of some years, I cannot forget 
that the indelicacy of so early a second marriage must 
subject me to the censure of the world, and incur, 

Lady Susan. 275 

what would be still more insupportable, the displeasure 
of Mr. Vernon. I might perhaps harden myself in 
time against the injustice of general reproach, but the 
loss of his valued esteem I am, as you well know, ill- 
fitted to endure; and when to this may be added the 
consciousness of having injured you with your family, 
how am I to support myself ? With feelings so poig- 
nant as mine, the conviction of having divided the 
son from his parents would make me, even with you, 
the most miserable of beings. It will surely, there- 
fore, be advisable to delay our union — to delay it till 
appearances are more promising — till affairs have 
taken a more favourable turn. To assist us in such a 
resolution I feel that absence will be necessary. We 
must not meet. Cruel as this sentence may appear, 
the necessity of pronouncing it, which can alone re- 
concile it to myself, will be evident to you when you 
have considered our situation in the light in which I 
have found myself imperiously obliged to place it. 
You maybe — you must be — well assured that nothing 
but the strongest conviction of duty could induce me 
to wound my own feelings by urging a lengthened 
separation, and of insensibility to yours you will 
hardly suspect me. Again, therefore, I say that we 
ought not, we must not, yet meet. By a removal for 
some months from each other we shall tranquillise the 
sisterly fears of Mrs. Vernon, who, accustomed herself 
to the enjoyment of riches, considers fortune as neces- 
sary everywhere, and whose sensibilities are not of a 
nature to comprehend ours. Let me hear from you 
soon — very soon. Tell me that you submit to my 

276 Lady Susan. 

arguments, and do not reproach me for using such. 
I cannot bear reproaches : my spirits are not so high 
as to need being repressed. I must endeavour to 
seek amusement, and fortunately many of my friends 
are in town ; amongst them the Mainwarings ; you 
know how sincerely I regard both husband and wife. 
I am, very faithfully yours, 

S. Vernon. 


Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson. 

Upper Seymour Street. 

My dear Friend, — That tormenting creature, Regi- 
nald, is here. My letter, which was intended to keep 
him longer in the country, has hastened him to town. 
Much as I wish him away, however, I cannot help 
being pleased with such a proof of attachment. He 
is devoted to me, heart and soul. He will carry this 
note himself, which is to serve as an introduction to 
you, with whom he longs to be acquainted. Allow 
him to spend the evening with you, that I may be in 
no danger of his returning here. I have told him that 
I am not quite well, and must be alone ; and should 
he call again there might be confusion, for it is im- 
possible to be sure of servants. Keep him, therefore, 
I entreat you, in Edward Street. You will not find 
him a heavy companion, and I allow you to flirt with 
him as much as you like. At the same time, do not 
forget my real interest ; say all that you can to con- 
vince him that I shall be quite wretched if he remains 

Lady Susan. 277 

here ; you know my reasons — propriety, and so forth. 
I would urge them more myself, but that I am im- 
patient to be rid of him, as Mainwaring comes within 
half-an hour. Adieu ! 

S. Vernon. 


Mrs. Johnson to Lady Susan. 

Edward Street. 
My dear Creature, — I am in agonies, and know not 
what to do. Mr. De Courcy arrived just when he 
should not. Mrs. Mainwaring had that instant entered 
the house, and forced herself into her guardian's 
presence, though I did not know a syllable of it till 
afterwards, for I was out when both she and Reginald 
came, or I should have sent him away at all events ; 
but she was shut up with Mr. Johnson, while he waited 
in the drawing-room for me. She arrived yesterday 
in pursuit of her husband, but perhaps you know this 
already from himself. She came to this house to 
entreat my husband's interference, and before I could 
be aware of it, everything that you could wish to be 
concealed was known to him, and unluckily she had 
wormed out of Mainwaring's servant that he had 
visited you every day since your being in town, and 
had just watched him to your door herself! What 
could I do ? Facts are such horrid things ! All is by 
this time known to De Courcy, who is now alone with 
Mr. Johnson. Do not accuse me ; indeed, it was im- 
possible to prevent it. Mr. Johnson has for some time 

278 Lady Susan. 

suspected De Courcy of intending to marry you, and 
would speak with him alone as soon as he knew him 
to be in the house. That detestable Mrs. Mainwaring, 
who, for your comfort, has fretted herself thinner and 
uglier than ever, is still here, and they have been all 
closeted together. What can be done ? At any 
rate, I hope he will plague his wife more than ever. 
With anxious wishes, 

Yours faithfully, 


Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson. 

Upper Seymour Street 

This eclaircissement is rather provoking. How 
unlucky that you should have been from home ! I 
thought myself sure of you at seven ! I am undis- 
mayed however. Do not torment yourself with fears 
on my account ; depend on it, I can make my story 
good with Reginald. Mainwaring is just gone ; he 
brought me the news of his wife's arrival. Silly 
woman, what does she expect by such manoeuvres ? 
Yet I wish she had stayed quietly at Langford. Regi- 
nald will be a little enraged at first, but by to- 
morrow's dinner, everything will be well again. 

Adieu ! 


Lady Sits an. 2?g 


Mr. De Courcy to Lady Susan. 

— HoteL 
I write only to bid you farewell, the spell is re- 
moved ; I see you as you are. Since we parted 
yesterday, I have received from indisputable authority 
such a history of you as must bring the most morti- 
fying conviction of the imposition I have been under, 
and the absolute necessity of an immediate and 
eternal separation from you . You cannot doubt 
to what I allude. Langford ! Langford ! that word 
will be sufficient. I received my information in Mr. 
Johnson's house, from Mrs. Mainwaring herself. You 
know how I have loved you ; you can intimately 
judge of my present feelings, but I am not so weak as 
to find indulgence in describing them to a woman 
who will glory in having excited their anguish, but 
whose affection they have never been able to gain. 

R. De Courcy. 


Lady Stisan to Mr. De Courcy. 

Upper Seymour Street 
I will not attempt to describe my astonishment in 
reading the note this moment received from you. I 
am bewildered in my endeavours to form some ra- 
tional conjecture of what Mrs. Mainwaring can have 
told you to occasion so extraordinary a change in your 
sentiments. Have I not explained everything to you 

2 So Lady Susan. 

with respect to myself which could bear a doubtful 
meaning, and which the ill-nature of the world had 
interpreted to my discredit ? What can you now 
have heard to stagger your esteem for me ? Have I 
ever had a concealment from you ? Reginald, you 
agitate me beyond expression, I cannot suppose that 
the old story of Mrs. Mainwaring's jealousy can be 
revived again, or at least be listened to again. Come 
to me immediately, and explain what is at present 
absolutely incomprehensible. Believe me the single 
word of Langford is not of such potent intelligence as 
to supersede the necessity of more. If we are to 
part, it will at least be handsome to take your per- 
sonal leave — but I have little heart to jest ; in truth, 
I am serious enough ; for to be sunk, though but for 
an hour, in your esteem is a humiliation to which I 
know not how to, submit I shall count every minute 
till your arrival. 

S. V. 


Mr. De Coarcy to Lady Susan. 

— Hotel. 
Why would you write to me ? Why do you require 
particulars ? But, since it must be so, I am obliged 
to declare that all the accounts of your misconduct 
during the life, and since the death of Mr. Vernon, 
which had reached me, in common with the world in 
general, and gained my entire belief before I saw 
you, but which you, by the exertion of your per- 

Lady Susan. 281 

verted abilities, had made me resolved to disallow, 
have been unanswerably proved to me ; nay more, I 
am assured that a connection, of which I had never 
before entertained a thought, has for some time ex- 
isted, and still continues to exist, between you and 
the man whose family you robbed of its peace in 
return for the hospitality with which you were re- 
ceived into it; that you have corresponded with 
him ever since your leaving Langford ; not with his 
wife, but with him, and that he now visits you every 
day. Can you, dare you deny it ? and all this at the 
time when I was an encouraged, an accepted lover ! 
From what have I not escaped ! I have only to be 
grateful. Far from me be all complaint, every sigh 
of regret. My own folly had endangered me, my 
preservation I owe to the kindness, the integrity of 
another ; but the unfortunate Mrs. Mainwaring, whose 
agonies while she related the past seemed to threaten 
her reason, how is she to be consoled ! After such 
a discovery as this, you will scarcely affect further 
wonder at my meaning in bidding you adieu. My 
understanding is at length restored, and teaches no 
less to abhor the artifices which had subdued me 
than to despise myself for the weakness on which 
their strength was founded. 

R. De Courcy. 

282 Lady Susan. 


Lady Susan to Mr. De Courcy. 

Upper Seymour Street 
I am satisfied, and will trouble you no more when 
these few lines are dismissed. The engagement 
which you were eager to form a fortnight ago is no 
longer compatible with your views, and I rejoice to 
find that the prudent advice of your parents has not 
been given in vain. Your restoration to peace will, I 
doubt not, speedily follow this act of filial obedience, 
and I flatter myself with the hope of surviving my 
share in this disappointment 

S. V. 


Mrs. Johnson to Lady Susan Vernon. 

Edward Street. 

I am grieved, though I cannot be astonished at 
your rupture with Mr. De Courcy; he has just in- 
formed Mr. Johnson of it by letter. He leaves 
London, he says, to-day. Be assured that I partake 
in all your feelings, and do not be angry if I say that 
our intercourse, even by letter, must soon be given 
up. It makes me miserable ; but Mr. Johnson vows 
that if I persist in the connection, he will settle in the 
country for the rest of his life, and you know it is 
impossible to submit to such an extremity while any 
other alternative remains. You have heard of course 

Lady Susan. 283 

that the Mainwarings are to part, and I am afraid 
Mrs. M. will come home to us again ; but she is still 
so fond of her husband, and frets so much about him, 
that perhaps she may not live long. Miss Main- 
waring is just come to town to be with her aunt, and 
they say that she declares she will have Sir James 
Martin before she leaves London again. If I were 
you, I would certainly get him myself. I had almost 
forgot to give you my opinion of Mr. De Courcy ; I 
am really delighted with him ; he is full as hand- 
some, I think, as Mainwaring, and with such an open, 
good-humoured countenance, that one cannot help 
loving him at first sight. Mr. Johnson and he are 
the greatest friends in the world. Adieu, my dearest 
Susan, I wish matters did not go so perversely. That 
unlucky visit to Langford ! but I dare say you did 
all for the best, and there is no defying destiny. 
Your sincerely attached, 



Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson. 

Upper Seymour Street 
My dear Alicia, — I yield to the necessity which 
parts us. Under circumstances you could not act 
otherwise. Our friendship cannot be impaired by it, 
and in happier times, when your situation is as in- 
dependent as mine, it will unite us again in the same 
intimacy as ever. For this I shall impatiently wait, 
and meanwhile can safely assure you that I never was 

284 Lady Susan. 

more at ease, or better satisfied with myself and 
everything about me than at the present hour. Your 
husband I abhor, Reginald I despise, and I am secure 
of never seeing either again. Have I not reason to 
rejoice ? Mainwaring is more devoted to me than 
ever ; and were we at liberty, I doubt if I could 
resist even matrimony offered by him. This event, if 
his wife live with you, it may be in your power to 
hasten. The violence of her feelings, which must 
wear her out, may be easily kept in irritation. I 
rely on your friendship for this. I am now satisfied 
that I never could have brought myself to marry 
Reginald, and am equally determined that Frederica 
never shall. To-morrow, I shall fetch her from 
Churchhill, and let Maria Mainwaring tremble for the 
consequence. Frederica shall be Sir James's wife 
before she quits my house, and she may whimper, and 
the Vernons may storm, I regard them not. I am 
tired of submitting my will to the caprices of others ; 
of resigning my own judgment in deference to those 
to whom I owe no duty, and for whom I feel no 
respect; I have given up too much, have been too 
easily worked on, but Frederica shall now feel the 
difference. Adieu, dearest of friends ; may the next 
gouty attack be more favourable ! and may you 
always regard me as unalterably yours, 

S. Vernon. 

Lady Susan. 285 


Lady de Courcy to Mrs. Vernon. 

My dear Catherine, — I have charming news for you, 
and if I had not sent off my letter this morning you 
might have been spared the vexation of knowing of 
Reginald's being gone to London, for he is returned. 
Reginald is returned, not to ask our consent to his 
marrying Lady Susan, but to tell us they are parted 
for ever. He has been only an hour in the house, and I 
have not been able to learn particulars, for he is so very 
low that I have not the heart to ask questions, but I 
hope we shall soon know all. This is the most joyful 
hour he has ever given us since the day of his birth. 
Nothing is wanting but to have you here, and it is our 
particular wish and entreaty that you would come to 
us as soon as you can. You have owed us a visit 
many long weeks ; I hope nothing will make it in- 
convenient to Mr. Vernon ; and pray bring all my 
grandchildren ; and your dear niece is included, of 
course ; I long to see her. It has been a sad, heavy 
winter hitherto, without Reginald, and seeing nobody 
from Churchhill. I never found the season so dreary 
before ; but this happy meeting will make us young 
again. Frederica runs much in my thoughts, and 
when Reginald has recovered his usual good spirits 
(as I trust he soon will) we will try to rob him of his 
heart once more, and I am full of hopes of seeing 
their hands joined at no great distance. 

Your affectionate mother, 

C. De Courcy. 

286 Lady Stisan. 


Mrs. Ver 7i07t to Lady de Courcy. 


My dear Mother, — Your letter has surprised me 
beyond measure ! Can it be true that they are really 
separated — and for ever ? I should be overjoyed if I 
dared depend on it, but after all that I have seen how 
can one be secure ? And Reginald really with you ! My 
surprise is the greater because on Wednesday, the 
very day of his coming to Parklands, we had a most 
unexpected and unwelcome visit from Lady Susan, 
looking all cheerfulness and good-humour, and seem- 
ing more as if she were to marry him when she got to 
London than as if parted from him for ever. She 
stayed nearly two hours, was as affectionate and agree- 
able as ever, and not a syllable, not a hint was dropped, 
of any disagreement or coolness between them. I 
asked her whether she had seen my brother since his 
arrival in town ; not, as you may suppose, with any 
doubt of the fact, but merely to see how she looked. 
She immediately answered, without any embarrass- 
ment, that he had been kind enough to call on her on 
Monday ; but she believed he had already returned 
home, which I was very far from crediting. Your 
kind invitation is accepted by us with pleasure, and 
on Thursday next we and our little ones will be 
with you. Pray heaven, Reginald may not be in 
town again by that time! I wish we could bring 
dear Frederica too, but I am sorry to say that her 

Lady Susan, 287 

mother's errand hither was to fetch her away ; and, 
miserable as it made the poor girl, it was impossible 
to detain her. I was thoroughly unwilling to let her 
go, and so was her uncle ; and all that could be urged 
we did urge ; but Lady Susan declared that as she 
was now about to fix herself in London for several 
months, she could not be easy if her daughter were 
not with her for masters, &c. Her manner, to be 
sure, was very kind and proper, and Mr. Vernon 
believes that Frederica will now be treated with affec- 
tion. I wish I could think so too. The poor girl's 
heart was almost broke at taking leave of us. I 
charged her to write to me very often, and to remem- 
ber that if she were in any distress we should be 
always her friends. I took care to see her alone, that 
I might say all this, and I hope made her a little 
more comfortable ; but I shall not be easy till I can 
go to town and judge of her situation myself. I wish 
there were a better prospect than now appears of the 
match which the conclusion of your letter declares 
your expectations of. At present, it is not very 

Yours ever, &c, 

C. Vernon. 


This correspondence, by a meeting between some 
of the parties, and a separation between the others, 
could not, to the great detriment of the Post-Office 
revenue, be continued any longer. Very little assist- 

288 Lady Susan. 

ance to the State could be derived from the epistolary 
intercourse of Mrs. Vernon and her niece ; for the 
former soon perceived, by the style of Fredericks 
letters, that they were written under her mother's 
inspection ! and therefore, deferring all particular en- 
quiry till she could make it personally in London, ceased 
writing minutely or often. Having learnt enough, 
in the meanwhile, from her open-hearted brother, 
of what had passed between him and Lady Susan to 
sink the latter lower than ever in her opinion, she was 
proportionably more anxious to get Frederica removed 
from such a mother, and placed under her own care \ 
and, though with little hope of success, was resolved 
to leave nothing unattempted that might offer a chance 
of obtaining her sister-in-law's consent to it. Her 
anxiety on the subject made her press for an early 
visit to London ; and Mr. Vernon, who, as it must 
already have appeared, lived only to do whatever he 
was desired, soon found some accommodating business 
to call him thither. With a heart full of the matter, 
Mrs. Vernon waited on Lady Susan shortly after her 
arrival in town, and was met with such an easy and 
cheerful affection, as made her almost turn from her 
with horror. No remembrance of Reginald, no con- 
sciousness of guilt, gave one look of embarrassment ; 
she was in excellent spirits, and seemed eager to show 
at once by every possible attention to her brother and 
sister her sense of their kindness, and her pleasure in 
their society. Frederica was no more altered than 
Lady Susan ; the same restrained manners, the same 
timid look in the presence of her mother as heretofore, 

Lady Stisan. 289 

assured her aunt of her situation being uncomfortable, 
and confirmed her in the plan of altering it. No 
unkindness, however, on the part of Lady Susan ap- 
peared. Persecution on the subject of Sir James was 
entirely at an end ; his name merely mentioned to say 
that he was not in London ; and indeed, in all her 
conversation, she was solicitous only for the welfare 
and improvement of her daughter, acknowledging, in 
terms of grateful delight, that Frederica was now 
growing every day more and more what a parent 
could desire. Mrs. Vernon, surprised and incredulous, 
knew not what to suspect, and, without any change in 
her own views, only feared greater difficulty in accom- 
plishing them. The first hope of anything better was 
derived from Lady Susan's asking her whether she 
thought Frederica looked quite as well as she had 
done at Churchhill, as she must confess herself to have 
sometimes an anxious doubt of London's perfectly 
agreeing with her. Mrs. Vernon, encouraging the 
doubt, directly proposed her niece's returning with 
them into the country. Lady Susan was unable to 
express her sense of such kindness, yet knew not, 
from a variety of reasons, how to part with her 
daughter ; and as, though her own plans were not yet 
wholly fixed, she trusted it would ere long be in her 
power to take Frederica into the country herself, 
concluded by declining entirely to profit by such 
unexampled attention. Mrs. Vernon persevered, how- 
ever, in the offer of it, and though Lady Susan 
continued to resist, her resistance in the course of a 
few days seemed somewhat less formidable. The 


290 Lady Susan. 

lucky alarm of an influenza decided what might not 
have been decided quite so soon. Lady Susan's 
maternal fears were then too much awakened for her 
to think of anything but Frederica's removal from the 
risk of infection ; above all disorders in the world she 
most dreaded the influenza for her daughter's con- 
stitution ! 

Frederica returned to Churchhill with her uncle 
and aunt ; and three weeks afterwards, Lady Susan 
announced her being married to Sir James Martin. 
Mrs. Vernon was then convinced of what she had only 
suspected before, that she might have spared herself 
all the trouble of urging a removal which Lady 
Susan had doubtless resolved on from the first. 
Frederica's visit was nominally for six weeks, but her 
mother, though inviting her to return in one or two 
affectionate letters, was very ready to oblige the whole 
party by consenting to a prolongation of her stay, 
and in the course of two months ceased to write of 
her absence, and in the course of two more to write 
to her at all. Frederica was therefore fixed in the 
family of her uncle and aunt till such time as Re- 
ginald De Courcy could be talked, flattered, and 
finessed into an affection for her which, allowing 
leisure for the conquest of his attachment to her 
mother, for his abjuring all future attachments, and 
detesting the sex, might be reasonably looked for in 
the course of a twelvemonth. Three months might 
have done it in general, but Reginald's feelings were 
no less lasting than lively. Whether Lady Susan 
was or was not happy in her second choice, I do not 

Lady Susan. 291 

see how it can ever be ascertained ; for who would 
take her assurance of it on either side of the ques- 
tion ? The world must judge from probabilities ; she 
had nothing against her but her husband, and her 
conscience. Sir James may seem to have drawn a 
harder lot than mere folly merited ; I leave him, 
therefore, to all the pity that anybody can give him. 
For myself, I confess that / can pity only Miss Main- 
waring; who, coming to town, and putting herself 
to an expense in clothes which impoverished her for 
two years, on purpose to secure him, was defrauded 
of her due by a woman ten years older than herself. 



THIS WORK was left by its author a fragment without 
a name, in so elementary a state as not even to be 
divided into chapters ; and some obscurities and in- 
accuracies of expression may be observed in it which 
the author would probably have corrected. The 
original manuscript is the property of my sister, Miss 
Austen, by whose permission it is now published. 
I have called it ' The Watsons/ for the sake of having 
a title by which to designate it. Two questions may 
be asked concerning it. When was it written ? And, 
why was it never finished ? I was unable to answer 
the first question, so long as I had only the internal 
evidence of the style to guide me. I felt satisfied, 
indeed, that it did not belong to that early class of 
her writings which are mentioned at page 46 of the 
Memoir, but rather bore marks of her more mature 
style, though it had never been subjected to the filing 
and polishing process by which she was accustomed 
to impart a high finish to her published works. At 
last, on a close inspection of the original manuscript, 
the water-marks of 1803, and 1804, were found in the 
paper on which it was written. It is, therefore, pro- 
bable, that it was composed at Bath, before she 
ceased to reside there in 1805. This would place 
the date a few years later than the composition, but 

296 Preface. 

earlier than the publication of ' Sense and Sensibility/ 
and ' Pride and Prejudice/ 

To the second question, why was it never finished ? 
I can give no satisfactory answer. I think it will be 
generally admitted that there is much in it which pro- 
mised well : that some of the characters are drawn 
with her wonted vigour, and some with a delicate 
discrimination peculiarly her own ; and that it is rich 
in her especial power of telling the story, and bring- 
ing out the characters by conversation rather than 
by description. It could not have been broken up 
for the purpose of using the materials in another 
fabric ; for, with the exception of Mrs. Robert Watson, 
in whom a resemblance to the future Mrs. Elton is 
very discernible, it would not be easy to trace much 
resemblance between this and any of her subsequent 
works. She must have felt some regret at leaving 
Tom Musgrave's character incomplete ; yet he never 
appears elsewhere. My own idea is, but it is only 
a guess, that the author became aware of the evil 
of having placed her heroine too low, in such a 
position of poverty and obscurity as, though not 
necessarily connected with vulgarity, has a sad ten- 
dency to degenerate into it; and therefore, like a 
singer who has begun on too low a note, she discon- 
tinued the strain. It was an error of which she was 
likely to become more sensible, as she grew older, 
and saw more of society ; certainly she never repeated 
it by placing the heroine of any subsequent work 
under circumstances likely to be unfavourable to the 
refinement of a lady. 


HE first winter assembly in the town of D. 
in Surrey was to be held on Tuesday, 
October 13th, and it was generally ex- 
pected to be a very good one. A long 
list of county families was confidently run over as 
sure of attending, and sanguine hopes were entertained 
that the Osbornes themselves would be there. The 
Edwards' invitation to the Watsons followed of course. 
The Edwards were people of fortune, who lived in the 
town and kept their coach. The Watsons inhabited 
a village about three miles distant, were poor and 
had no close carriage ; and ever since there had been 
balls in the place, the former were accustomed to 
invite the latter to dress, dine, and sleep at their 
house on every monthly return throughout the winter. 
On the present occasion, as only two of Mr. Watson's 
children were at home, and one was always necessary 
as companion to himself, for he was sickly and had 
lost his wife, one only could profit by the kindness 
of their friends. Miss Emma Watson, who was very 
recently returned to her family from the care of an 
aunt who had brought her up, was to make her first 

298 The Watsons, 

public appearance in the neighbourhood, and her 
eldest sister, whose delight in a ball was not lessened 
by a ten years' enjoyment, had some merit in cheer- 
fully undertaking to drive her and all her finery in 
the old chair to D. on the important morning. 

As they splashed along the dirty lane Miss Wat- 
son thus instructed and cautioned her inexperienced 

' I dare say it will be a very good ball, and among 
so many officers you will hardly want partners. You 
will find Mrs. Edwards' maid very willing to help 
you, and I would advise you to ask Mary Edwards' 
opinion if you are at all at a loss, for she has a 
very good taste. If Mr. Edwards does not lose his 
money at cards you will stay as late as you can 
wish for ; if he does he will hurry you home per- 
haps — but you are sure of some comfortable soup. 
I hope you will be in good looks. I should not be 
surprised if you were to be thought one of the prettiest 
girls in the room, there is a great deal in novelty. 
Perhaps Tom Musgrave may take notice of you ; but 
I would advise you by all means not to give him any 
encouragement. He generally pays attention to every 
new girl, but he is a great flirt and never means any- 
thing serious/ 

'I think I have heard you speak of him before/ 
said Emma, 'who is he?' 

' A young man of very good fortune, quite indepen- 
dent, and remarkably agreeable, an universal favourite 
wherever he goes. Most of the girls hereabout are in 
love with him, or have been. I believe I am the only 

The Watsons, 299 

one among them that have escaped with a whole heart ; 
and yet I was the first he paid attention to when he 
came into this country six years ago ; and very great 
attention did he pay me. Some people say that he 
has never seemed to like any girl so well since, 
though he is always behaving in a particular way to 
one or another.' 

'And how came your heart to be the only cold 
one ? ' said Emma, smiling. 

'There was a reason for that/ — replied Miss Watson, 
changing colour — ' I have not been very well used 
among them, Emma, I hope you will have better 

' Dear sister, I beg your pardon, if I have unthink- 
ingly given you pain.' 

'When first we knew Tom Musgrave/ continued 
Miss Watson, without seeming to hear her, 'I was 
very much attached to a young man of the name of 
Purvis, a particular friend of Robert's, who used to 
be with us a great deal. Everybody thought it 
would have been a match/ 

A sigh accompanied these words, which Emma 
respected in silence ; but her sister after a short 
pause went on. 

' You will naturally ask why it did not take place, 
and why he is married to another woman, while I 
am still single. But you must ask him — not me — 
you must ask Penelope. Yes, Emma, Penelope was 
at the bottom of it all. She thinks everything fair 
for a husband. I trusted her; she set him against 
me. with a view of gaining him herself, and it ended 

300 The Watsons. 

in his discontinuing his visits, and soon after marrying 
somebody else. Penelope makes light of her conduct, 
but / think such treachery very bad. It has been the 
ruin of my happiness. I shall never love any man 
as I loved Purvis. I do not think Tom Musgrave 
should be named with him in the same day.' 

' You quite shock me by what you say'of Penelope/ 
said Emma, ' could a sister do such a thing ? Rivalry, 
treachery between sisters ! I shall be afraid of being 
acquainted with her. But I hope it was not so ; ap- 
pearances were against her/ 

' You do not know Penelope. There is nothing 
she would not do to get married. She would as 
good as tell you so herself. Do not trust her with 
any secrets of your own, take warning by me, do not 
trust her ; she has her good qualities, but she has no 
faith, no honour, no scruples, if she can promote her 
own advantage. I wish with all my heart she w*as 
well married. I declare I had rather have her well 
married than myself/ 

'Than yourself! yes I can suppose so. A heart 
wounded like yours can have little inclination for 

' Not much indeed — but you know we must marry. 
I could do very well single for my own part ; a 
little company, and a pleasant ball now and then, 
would be enough for me, if one could be young for 
ever ; but my father cannot provide for us, and it 
is very bad to grow old and be poor and laughed at. 
I have lost Purvis, it is true ; but very few people 
marry their first loves. I should not refuse a man 

The Watsons. 301 

because he was not Purvis. Not that I can ever quite 
forgive Penelope/ 

Emma shook her head in acquiescence. 

'Penelope, however, has had her troubles/ con- 
tinued Miss Watson. * She was sadly disappointed 
in Tom Musgrave, who afterwards transferred his 
attentions from me to her, and whom she was very- 
fond of ; but he never means anything serious, and 
when he had trifled with her long enough, he began 
to slight her for Margaret, and poor Penelope was 
very wretched. And since then, she has been trying 
to make some match at Chichester — she won't tell us 
with whom; but I believe it is a rich old Dr. Harding, 
uncle to the friend she goes to see; and she has taken 
a vast deal of trouble about him, and given up a great 
deal of time to no purpose as yet. When she went 
away the other day, she said it should be the last 
time. I suppose you did not know what her parti- 
cular business was at Chichester, nor guess at the 
object which could take her away from Stanton just 
as you were coming home after so many years' 

' No indeed, I had not the smallest suspicion of it 
I considered her engagement to Mrs. Shaw just at that 
time as very unfortunate for me. I had hoped to find 
all my sisters at home, to be able to make an imme- 
diate friend of each/ 

' I suspect the Doctor to have had an attack of the 
asthma, and that she was hurried away on that ac- 
count. The Shaws are quite on her side — at least, I 
believe so; but she tells me nothing. She professes 

302 The Watsons. 

to keep her own counsel ; she says, and truly enough, 
that " Too many cooks spoil the broth." ' 

1 1 am sorry for her anxieties,' said Emma ; ' but I 
do not like her plans or her opinions. I shall be 
afraid of her. She must have too masculine and bold 
a temper. To be so bent on marriage — to pursue a 
man merely for the sake of situation, is a sort of thing 
that shocks me ; I cannot understand it. Poverty is 
a great evil ; but to a woman of education and feeling 
it ought not, it cannot be the greatest. I would 
rather be teacher at a school (and I can think of 
nothing worse), than marry a man I did not like/ 

' I would rather do anything than be teacher at a 
school/ said her sister. '/ have been at school, 
Emma, and know what a life they lead; you never 
have. I should not like marrying a disagreeable man 
any more than yourself ; but I do not think there are 
many very disagreeable men ; I think I could like 
any goodhumoured man with a comfortable income. 
I suppose my aunt brought you up to be rather 

' Indeed I do not know. My conduct must tell 
you how I have been brought up. I am no judge of 
it myself. I cannot compare my aunt's method with 
any other person's, because I know no other.' 

' But I can see in a great many things that you are 
very refined. I have observed it ever since you came 
home, and I am afraid it will not be for your happi- 
ness. Penelope will laugh at you very much.' 

' That will not be for my happiness, I am sure. If 
my opinions are wrong I must correct them ; if they 

The Watsons. 303 

are above my situation, I must endeavour to conceal 
them ; but I doubt whether ridicule — has Penelope 
much wit V 

' Yes ; she has great spirits, and never cares what 
she says/ 

' Margaret is more gentle, I imagine ?' 
r Yes ; especially in company ; she is all gentleness 
and mildness when anybody is by. But she is a little 
fretful and perverse among ourselves. Poor creature ! 
She is possessed with the notion of Tom Musgrave's 
being more seriously in love with her than he ever 
was with anybody else, and is always expecting him 
to come to the point. This is the second time within 
this twelvemonth that she has gone to spend a month 
with Robert and Jane on purpose to egg him on by 
her absence ; but I am sure she is mistaken, and 
that he will no more follow her to Croydon now than 
he did last March. He will never marry unless he 
can marry somebody very great ; Miss Osborne, per- 
haps, or somebody in that style. 1 

'Your account of this Tom Musgrave, Elizabeth, 
gives me very little inclination for his acquaintance/ 
' You are afraid of him ; I do not wonder at you/ 
' No, indeed ; I dislike and despise him/ 
* Dislike and despise Tom Musgrave ! No, that 
you never can. I defy you not to be delighted with 
him if he takes notice of you. I hope he will dance 
with you ; and I dare say he will, unless the Osbornes 
come with a large party, and then he will not speak 
to anybody else/ 

'He seems to have most engaging manners!' said 

304- The Watsons. 

Emma. ' Well, we shall see how irresistible Mr. Tom 
Musgrave and I find each other. I suppose I shall 
know him as soon as I enter the ball-room ; he must 
carry some of his charms in his face/ 

* You will not find him in the ball-room, I can tell 
you ; you will go early, that Mrs. Edwards may get 
a good place by the fire, and he never comes till late ; 
if the Osbornes are coming, he will wait in the pas- 
sage and come in with them. I should like to look 
in upon you, Emma. If it was but a good day with 
my father, I would wrap myself up, and James should 
drive me over as soon as I had made tea for him ; 
and I should be with you by the time the dancing 

'What! Would you come late at night in this 
chair ? ' 

' To be sure I would. There, I said you were very 
refined, and thats an instance of it/ 

Emma for a moment made no answer. At last she 
said — 

' I wish, Elizabeth, you had not made a point of 
my going to this ball ; I wish you were going instead 
of me. Your pleasure would be greater than mine. 
I am a stranger here, and know nobody but the Ed- 
wards; my enjoyment, therefore, must be very doubt- 
ful. Yours, among all your acquaintance, would 
be certain. It is not too late to change. Very little 
apology could be requisite to the Edwards, who 
must be more glad of your company than of mine, 
and I should most readily return to my father ; and 
should not be at all afraid to drive this quiet old 

The Watsons. 305 

creature home. Your clothes I would undertake to 
find means of sending to you.' 

' My dearest Emma/ cried Elizabeth, warmly, ' do 
you think I would do such a thing ? Not for the uni- 
verse I But I shall never forget your goodnature in 
proposing it. You must have a sweet temper indeed ! 
I never met with anything like it ! And would you 
really give up the ball that I might be able to go to 
it ? Believe me, Emma, I am not so selfish as that 
comes to. No ; though I am nine years older than 
you are, I would not be the means of keeping you 
from being seen. You are very pretty, and it would 
be very hard that you should not have as fair a 
chance as we have all had to make your fortune. No, 
Emma, whoever stays at home this winter, it shan't 
be you. I am sure I should never have forgiven the 
person who kept me from a ball at nineteen/ 

Emma expressed her gratitude, and for a few 
minutes they jogged on in silence. Elizabeth first 
spoke : — 

' You will take notice who Mary Edwards dances 

' I will remember her partners, if I can ; but you 
know they will be all strangers to me.' 

'Only observe whether she dances with Captain 
Hunter more than once — I have my fears in that 
quarter. Not that her father or mother like officers ; 
but if she does, you know, it is all over with poor 
Sam. And I have promised to write him word who 
she dances with.' 

' Is Sam attached to Miss Edwards ?' 

306 The Watsons. 

'Did not you know that V 

' How should I know it ? How should I know in 
Shropshire what is passing of that nature in Surrey ? 
It is not likely that circumstances of such delicacy 
should have made any part of the scanty communi- 
cation which passed between you and me for the last 
fourteen years.' 

* I wonder I never mentioned it when I wrote. 
Since you have been at home, I have been so busy 
with my poor father, and our great wash, that I have 
had no leisure to tell you anything ; but, indeed, I 
concluded you knew it all. He has been very much 
in love with her these two years, and it is a great dis- 
appointment to him that he cannot always get away 
to our balls ; but Mr. Curtis won't often spare him, 
and just now it is a sickly time at Guildford.' 

' Do you suppose Miss Edwards inclined to like him ? ' 

1 1 am afraid not : you know she is an only child, 
and will have at least ten thousand pounds.' 

' But still she may like our brother.' 

' Oh, no ! The Edwards look much higher. Her 
father and mother would never consent to it. Sam is 
only a surgeon, you know. Sometimes I think she 
does like him. But Mary Edwards is rather prim 
and reserved ; I do not always know what she would 
be at' 

' Unless Sam feels on sure grounds with the lady 
herself, it seems a pity to me that he should be en- 
couraged to think of her at all.' 

' A young man must think of somebody/ said 
Elizabeth, ' and why should not he be as lucky as 

The Watsons. 307 

Robert, who has got a good wife and six thousand 
pounds ? ' 

' We must not all expect to be individually lucky/ 
replied Emma. ' The luck of one member of a family 
is luck to all.' 

' Mine is all to come, I am sure/ said Elizabeth, 
giving another sigh to the remembrance of Purvis. ' I 
have been unlucky enough ; and I cannot say much 
for you, as my aunt married again so foolishly. Well, 
you will have a good ball, I daresay. The next turn- 
ing will bring us to the turnpike : you may see the 
church-tower over the hedge, and the White Hart is 
close by it. I shall long to know what you think of 
Tom Musgrave.' 

Such were the last audible sounds of Miss Watson's 
voice, before they passed through the turnpike-gate, 
and entered on the pitching of the town, the jumbling 
and noise of which made further conversation most 
thoroughly undesirable. The old mare trotted heavily 
on, wanting no direction of the reins to take the right 
turning, and making only one blunder, in proposing 
to stop at the milliner's, before she drew up towards 
Mr. Edwards' door. Mr. Edwards lived in the best 
house in the street, and the best in the place, if Mr. 
Tomlinson, the banker, might be indulged in calling 
his newly-erected house at the end of the town, with 
a shrubbery and sweep, in the country. 

Mr. Edwards' house was higher than most of its 
neighbours, with four windows on each side the door ; 
the windows guarded by posts and chains, and the 
door approached by a flight of stone steps. 

308 The Watsons. 

' Here we are/ said Elizabeth, as the carriage ceased 
moving, ' safely arrived, and by the market clock we 
have been only five-and-thirty minutes coming ; which 
I think is doing pretty well, though it would be nothing 
for Penelope. Is not it a nice town? The Edwards 
have a noble house, you see, and they live quite in 
style. The door will be opened by a man in livery, 
with a powdered head, I can tell you.' 

Emma had seen the Edwards only one morning at 
Stanton ; they were therefore all but strangers to her ; 
and though her spirits were by no means insensible to 
the expected joys of the evening, she felt a little un- 
comfortable in the thought of all that was to precede 
them. Her conversation with Elizabeth, too, giving 
her some very unpleasant feelings with respect to her 
own family, had made her more open to disagreeable 
impressions from any other cause, and increased her 
sense of the awkwardness of rushing into intimacy on 
so slight an acquaintance. 

There was nothing in the manner of Mrs. and Miss 
Edwards to give immediate change to these ideas. 
The mother, though a very friendly woman, had a 
reserved air, and a great deal of formal civility ; and 
the daughter, a genteel-looking girl of twenty-two, 
with her hair in papers, seemed very naturally to have 
caught something of the style of her mother, who had 
brought her up. Emma was soon left to know what 
they could be, by Elizabeth's being obliged to hurry 
away; and some very languid remarks on the pro- 
bable brilliancy of the ball were all that broke, at 
intervals, a silence of half-an-hour, before they were 

The Watsons. 309 

joined by the master of the house. Mr. Edwards 
had a much easier and more communicative air than 
the ladies of the family ; he was fresh from the street, 
and he came ready to tell whatever might interest. 
After a cordial reception of Emma, he turned to his 
daughter with — 

' Well, Mary, I bring you good news : the Osbornes 
will certainly be at the ball to-night. Horses for two 
carriages are ordered from the White Hart to be at 
Osborne Castle by nine.' 

' I am glad of it/ observed Mrs. Edwards, ' because 
their coming gives a credit to our assembly. The 
Osbornes being known to have been at the first ball, 
will dispose a great many people to attend the second. 
It is more than they deserve ; for, in fact, they add 
nothing to the pleasure of the evening : they come so 
late and go so early ; but great people have always 
their charm.' 

Mr. Edwards proceeded to relate many other little 
articles of news which his morning's lounge had 
supplied him with, and they chatted with greater 
briskness, till Mrs. Edwards' moment for dressing 
arrived, and the young ladies were carefully recom- 
mended to lose no time. Emma was shown to a very 
comfortable apartment, and as soon as Mrs. Edwards' 
civilities could leave her to herself, the happy occupa- 
tion, the first bliss of a ball, began. The girls, dressing 
in some measure together, grew unavoidably better 
acquainted. Emma found in Miss Edwards the show 
of good sense, a modest unpretending mind, and a 
great wish of obliging ; and when they returned to the 

310 The IVatsojis. 

parlour where Mrs. Edwards was sitting, respectably- 
attired in one of the two satin gowns which went 
through the winter, and a new cap from the milliner's y 
they entered it with much easier feelings and more 
natural smiles than they had taken away. Their 
dress was now to be examined : Mrs. Edwards 
acknowledged herself too old-fashioned to approve 
of every modern extravagance, however sanctioned ; 
and though complacently viewing her daughter's 
good looks, would give but a qualified admiration; 
and Mr. Edwards, not less satisfied with Mary, paid 
some compliments of good-humoured gallantry to 
Emma at her expense. The discussion led to more 
intimate remarks, and Miss Edwards gently asked 
Emma if she was not often reckoned very like her 
youngest brother. Emma thought she could perceive 
a faint blush accompany the question, and there 
seemed something still more suspicious in the manner 
in which Mr. Edwards took up the subject. 

' You are paying Miss Emma no great compliment, 
I think, Mary/ said he, hastily. ' Mr. Sam Watson is 
a very good sort of young man, and I dare say a very 
clever surgeon ; but his complexion has been rather too 
much exposed to all weathers to make a likeness to 
him very flattering.' 

Mary apologised, in some confusion — 

' She had not thought a strong likeness at all incom- 
patible with very different degrees of beauty. There 
might be resemblance in countenance, and the com- 
plexion and even the features be very unlike.' 

' I know nothing of my brother's beauty,' said 

The Watsons. 311 

Emma, ' for I have not seen him since he was seven 
years old ; but my father reckons us alike/ 

'Mr. Watson T cried Mr. Edwards; 'well, you as- 
tonish me. There is not the least likeness in the 
world ; your brother's eyes are grey, yours are brown ; 
he has a long face, and a wide mouth. My dear, do 
you perceive the least resemblance?' 

' Not the least: Miss Emma Watson puts me very 
much in mind of her eldest sister, and sometimes I 
see a look of Miss Penelope, and once or twice there 
has been a glance of Mr. Robert, but I cannot perceive 
any likeness to Mr. Samuel.' 

' I see the likeness between her and Miss Watson/ 
replied Mr. Edwards, 'very strongly, but I am not 
sensible of the others. I do not much think she is 
like any of the family but Miss Watson ; but I am 
very sure there is no resemblance between her and 

This matter was settled, and they went to dinner. 

'Your father, Miss Emma, is one of my oldest 
friends/ said Mr. Edwards, as he helped her to wine, 
when they were drawn round the fire to enjoy their 
dessert. ' We must drink to his better health. It is 
a great concern to me, I assure you, that he should be 
such an invalid. I know nobody who likes a game of 
cards, in a social way, better than he does, and very 
few people who play a fairer rubber. It is a thousand 
pities that he should be so deprived of the pleasure. 
For now, we have a quiet little Whist Club, that meets 
three times a week at the White Hart ; and if he could 
but have his health, how much he would enjoy it!' 

312 The Watsons. 

* I daresay he would, sir ; and I wish, with all my 
heart, he were equal to it/ 

' Your club would be better fitted for an invalid/ 
said Mrs. Edwards, 'if you did not keep it up so 
late/ This was an old grievance. 

'So late, my dear! What are you talking of?' 
cried the husband, with sturdy pleasantry. ' We are 
always at home before midnight. They would laugh 
at Osborne Castle to hear you call that late ; they 
are but just rising from dinner at midnight/ 

4 That is nothing to the purpose/ retorted the 
lady, calmly. ' The Osbornes are to be no rule for 
us. You had better meet every night, and break up 
two hours sooner/ 

So far the subject was very often carried ; but Mr. 
and Mrs. Edwards were so wise as never to pass that 
point ; and Mr. Edwards now "turned to something 
else. He had lived long enough in the idleness of a 
town to become a little of a gossip, and having some 
anxiety to know more of the circumstances of his 
young guest than had yet reached him, he began 
with — 

' I think, Miss Emma, I remember your aunt very 
well, about thirty years ago ; I am pretty sure I 
danced with her in the old rooms at Bath the year 
before I married. She was a very fine woman then, 
but like other people, I suppose, she is grown some- 
what older since that time. I hope she is likely to 
be happy in her second choice/ 

' I hope so ; I believe so, sir/ said Emma, in some 

The Watsons. 313 

' Mr. Turner had not been dead a great while, I 
think ?' 

1 About two years, sir/ 

' I forget what her name is now.' 

< O'Brien/ 

1 Irish ! ah, I remember ; and she is gone to settle 
in Ireland. I do not wonder that you should not 
wish to go with her into that country, Miss Emma ; 
but it must be a great deprivation to her, poor lady ! 
after bringing you up like a child of her own/ 

' I was not so ungrateful, sir/ said Emma, warmly, 
' as to wish to be anywhere but with her. It did not 
suit Captain O'Brien that I should be of the party/ 

' Captain ! ' repeated Mrs. Edwards. ' The gentle- 
man is in the army then ? ' 

' Yes, ma'am/ 

' Aye, there is nothing like your officers for capti- 
vating the ladies, young or old. There is no resisting 
a cockade, my dear/ 

' I hope there is,' said Mrs. Edwards gravely, with 
a quick glance at her daughter ; and Emma had just 
recovered from her own perturbation in time to see a 
blush on Miss Edwards' cheek and in remembering 
what Elizabeth had said of Captain Hunter, to wonder 
and waver between his influence and her brother's. 

< Elderly ladies should be careful how they make a 
second choice,' observed Mr. Edwards. 

' Carefulness and discretion should not be confined 
to elderly ladies, or to a second choice/ added his 
wife. ' They are quite as necessary to young ladies in 
their first/ 

314 The Watsons. 

' Rather more so, my dear/ replied he ; ' because 
young ladies are likely to feel the effects of it longer. 
When an old lady plays the fool, it is not in the 
course of nature that she should suffer from it many 

Emma drew her hand across her eyes, and Mrs. 
Edwards, in perceiving it, changed the subject to one 
of less anxiety to all. 

With nothing to do but to expect the hour of 
setting off, the afternoon was long to the two young 
ladies ; and though Miss Edwards was rather dis- 
composed at the very early hour which her mother 
always fixed for going, that early hour itself was 
watched for with some eagerness. The entrance of 
the tea-things at seven o'clock was some relief; and r 
luckily, Mr. and Mrs. Edwards always drank a dish 
extraordinary and ate an additional muffin when 
they were going to sit up late, which lengthened the 
ceremony almost to the wished-for moment. 

At a little before eight o'clock the Tomlinsons' car- 
riage was heard to go by, which was the constant 
signal for Mrs. Edwards to order hers to the door ; 
and in a very few minutes the party were trans- 
ported from the quiet and warmth of a snug parlour to 
the bustle, noise, and draughts of air of a broad entrance 
passage of an inn. Mrs. Edwards, carefully guard- 
ing her own dress, while she attended with yet greater 
solicitude to the proper security of her young charges' 
shoulders and throats, led the way up the wide stair- 
case, while no sound of a ball but the first scrape of 
one violin blessed the ears of her followers ; and 

The Watsons. 315 

Miss Edwards, on hazarding the anxious enquiry of 
whether there were many people come yet, was told 
by the waiter, as she knew she should, that Mr. Tom- 
linsori's family were in the room. 

In passing along a short gallery to the assembly 
room, brilliant in lights before them, they were ac- 
costed by a young man in a morning-dress and boots, 
who was standing in the doorway of a bedchamber 
apparently on purpose to see them go by. 

1 Ah ! Mrs. Edwards, how do you do ? How do 
you do, Miss Edwards ? ' he cried, with an easy air. 
' You are determined to be in good time, I see, as 
usual. The candles are but this moment lit' 

' I like to get a good seat by the fire, you know, 
Mr. Musgrave/ replied Mrs. Edwards. 

' I am this moment going to dress/ said he. ' I 
am waiting for my stupid fellow. We shall have a 
famous ball. The Osbornes are certainly coming ; 
you may depend upon that, for I was with Lord 
Osborne this morning.' 

The party passed on. Mrs. Edwards' satin gown 
swept along the clean floor of the ballroom to the 
fireplace at the upper end, where one party only were 
formally seated, while three or four officers were 
lounging together, passing in and out from the ad- 
joining card-room. A very stiff meeting between 
these near neighbours ensued, and as soon as they 
were all duly placed again, Emma, in a low whisper, 
which became the solemn scene, said to Miss 
Edwards : — 

' The gentleman we passed in the passage was Mr, 

316 The Watsons. 

Musgrave, then ; he is reckoned remarkably agree- 
able, I understand ? ' 

Miss Edwards answered hesitatingly, ' Yes ; he is 
very much liked by many people ; but we are not 
very intimate.' 

' He is rich, is not he ? ' 

' He has about eight or nine hundred a-year, I 
believe. He came into possession of it when he was 
very young, and my father and mother think it has 
given him rather an unsettled turn. He is no favourite 
with them.' 

The cold and empty appearance of the room, and 
the demure air of the small cluster of females at one 
end of it, began soon to give way. The inspiriting 
sound of other carriages was heard, and continual 
accessions of portly chaperones, and strings of smartly 
dressed girls, were received, with now and then a 
fresh gentleman straggler, who, if not enough in love 
to station himself near any fair creature, seemed glad 
to escape into the card-room. 

Among the increasing number of military men, 
one now made his way to Miss Edwards with an 
air of empressment which decidedly said to her com- 
panion, * I am Captain Hunter ; ' and Emma, who 
could not but watch her at such a moment, saw her 
looking rather distressed, but by no means displeased, 
and heard an engagement formed for the two first 
dances, which made her think her brother Sam's 
a hopeless case. 

Emma in the meanwhile was not unobserved or 
unadmired herself A new face, and a very pretty 

The Watsons. 317 

one, could not be slighted. Her name was whispered 
from one party to another, and no sooner had the 
signal been given by the orchestra's striking up a 
favourite air, which seemed to call the young to their 
duty and people the centre of the room, than she found 
herself engaged to dance with a brother officer, intro- 
duced by Captain Hunter. 

Emma Watson was not more than of the middle 
height, well made and plump, with an air of healthy 
vigour. Her skin was very brown, but clear, smooth, 
and glowing, which, with a lively eye, a sweet smile, 
and an open countenance, gave beauty to attract, 
and expression to make that beauty improve on ac- 
quaintance. Having no reason to be dissatisfied 
with her partner, the evening began very pleasantly 
to her, and her feelings perfectly coincided with the 
reiterated observation of others, that it was an ex- 
cellent ball. The two first dances were not quite 
over when the returning sound of carriages after a 
long interruption called general notice ! — ' The Gs- 
bornes are coming ! ' ' The Osbornes are coming ! ' 
was repeated round the room. After some minutes 
of extraordinary bustle without and watchful curi- 
osity within, the important party, preceded by the 
attentive master of the inn, to open a door which was 
never shut, made their appearance. They consisted 
of Lady Osborne ; her son, Lord Osborne ; her 
daughter, Miss Osborne ; Miss Carr, her daughter's 
friend ; Mr. Howard, formerly tutor to Lord Osborne, 
now clergyman of the parish in which the castle 
stood ; Mrs. Blake, a widow sister, who lived with 

il8 The Watsons. 

him ; her son, a fine boy of ten years old ; and Mr. 
Tom Musgrave, who probably, imprisoned within his 
own room, had been listening in bitter impatience to 
the sound of the music for the last half-hour. In 
their progress up the room they paused almost im- 
mediately behind Emma to receive the compliments 
of some acquaintance, and she heard Lady Osborne 
observe that they had made a point of coming early 
for the gratification of Mrs. Blake's little boy, who 
was uncommonly fond of dancing. Emma looked at 
them all as they passed, but chiefly and with most 
interest on Tom Musgrave, who was certainly a 
genteel, good-looking young man. Of the females 
Lady Osborne had by much the finest person ; though 
nearly fifty, she was very handsome, and had all the 
dignity of rank. 

Lord Osborne was a very fine young man ; but 
there was an air of coldness, of carelessness, even of 
awkwardness about him, which seemed to speak him 
out of his element in a ball-room. He came in fact 
only because it was judged expedient for him to 
please the borough ; he was not fond of women's 
company, and he never danced. Mr. Howard was an 
agreeable-looking man, a little more than thirty. 

At the conclusion of the two dances, Emma found 
herself, she knew not how, seated amongst the Os- 
borne's set ; and she was immediately struck with 
the fine countenance and animated gestures of the 
little boy, as he was standing before his mother, con- 
sidering when they should begin. 

1 You will not be surprised at Charles's impatience.' 

The Watsons. 319 

said Mrs. Blake, a lively, pleasant-looking little woman 
of five or six and thirty, to a lady who was standing 
near her, ' when you know what a partner he is to 
have. Miss Osborne has been so very kind as to 
promise to dance the two first dances with him. J 

' Oh, yes ! we have been engaged this week/ cried 
the boy, ' and we are to dance down every couple/ 

On the other side of Emma, Miss Osborne, Miss 
Carr, and a party of young men were standing en- 
gaged in very lively consultation ; and soon after- 
wards she saw the smartest officer of the set walking 
off* to the orchestra to order the dance, while Miss 
Osborne passing before her to her little expecting 
partner, hastily said, ' Charles, I beg your pardon for 
not keeping my engagement, but I am going to dance 
these two dances with Colonel Beresford. I know 
you will excuse me, and I will certainly dance with 
you after tea ; " and without staying for an answer, 
she turned again to Miss Carr, and in another minute 
was led by Colonel Beresford to begin the set. If 
the poor little boy's face had in its happiness been 
interesting to Emma, it was infinitely more so under 
this sudden reverse ; he stood the picture of disap- 
pointment with crimsoned cheeks, quivering lips, and 
eyes bent on the floor. His mother, stifling her own 
mortification, tried to soothe his with the prospect of 
Miss Osborne's second promise ; but, though he con- 
trived to utter with an effort of boyish bravery, ' Oh, 
I do not mind it ! ' it was very evident by the un- 
ceasing agitation of his features that he minded it 
as much as ever. 

320 The Watsons. 

Emma did not think or reflect ; she felt and acted. 
' I shall be very happy to dance with you, sir, if you 
like it/ said she, holding out her hand with the most 
unaffected good-humour. The boy, in one moment 
restored to all his first delight, looked joyfully at his 
mother ; and stepping forwards with an honest, simple 
* Thank you, ma'am/ was instantly ready to attend his 
new acquaintance. The thankfulness of Mrs. Blake 
was more diffuse ; with a look most expressive of 
unexpected pleasure and lively gratitude, she turned 
to her neighbour with repeated and fervent acknow- 
ledgements of so great and condescending a kindness 
to her boy. Emma with perfect truth could assure 
her that she could not be giving greater pleasure than 
she felt herself; and Charles being provided with his 
gloves and charged to keep them on, they joined the 
set which was now rapidly forming, with nearly equal 
complacency. It was a partnership which could not 
be noticed without surprise. It gained her a broad 
stare from Miss Osborne and Miss Carr as they passed 
her in the dance. ' Upon my word, Charles, you are 
in luck/ said the former, as she turned him ; ' you 
have got a better partner than me ; ' to which the 
happy Charles answered ' Yes.' 

Tom Musgrave, who was dancing with Miss Carr, 
gave her many inquisitive glances ; and after a time 
Lord Osborne himself came, and under pretence of 
talking to Charles, stood to look at his partner. 
Though rather distressed by such observation, Emma 
could not repent what she had done, so happy had it 
made both the boy and his mother ; the latter of 

T/ie Watsons. 321 

whom was continually making opportunities of ad- 
dressing her with the warmest civility. Her little 
partner she found, though bent chiefly on dancing, 
was not unwilling to speak, when her questions or 
remarks gave him anything to say ; and she learnt, 
by a sort of inevitable enquiry, that he had two 
brothers and a sister, that they and their mamma all 
lived with his uncle at Wickstead, that his uncle 
taught him Latin, that he was very fond of riding, 
and had a horse of his own given him by Lord 
Osborne ; and that he had been out once already 
with Lord Osborne's hounds. 

At the end of these dances, Emma found they were 
to drink tea ; Miss Edwards gave her a caution to be 
at hand, in a manner which convinced her of Mrs. 
Edwards' holding it very important to have them 
both close to her when she moved into the tea-room ; 
and Emma was accordingly on the alert to gain her 
proper station. It was always the pleasure of the 
company to have a little bustle and crowd when they 
adjourned for refreshment. The tea-room was a 
small room within the card-room ; and in passing 
through the latter, where the passage was straitened 
by tables, Mrs. Edwards and her party were for a 
few moments hemmed in. It happened close by 
Lady Osborne's casino table ; Mr. Howard, who be- 
longed to it, spoke to his nephew; and Emma, on 
perceiving herself the object of attention both to 
Lady Osborne and him, had just turned away her 
eyes in time to avoid seeming to hear her young 
companion exclaim delightedly aloud, * Oh, uncle ! 


322 The Watsoiis. 

do look at my partner ; she is so pretty ! ' As 
they were immediately in motion again, however, 
Charles was hurried off without being able to receive 
his uncle's suffrage. On entering the tea-room, in 
which two long tables were prepared, Lord Osborne 
was to be seen quite alone at the end of one, as if 
retreating as far as he could from the ball, to enjoy 
his own thoughts and gape without restraint. Charles 
instantly pointed him out to Emma. ' There's Lord 
Osborne, let you and I go and sit by him/ 

* No, no/ said Emma, laughing, ' you must sit 
with my friends/ 

Charles was now free enough to hazard a few 
questions in his turn. ' What o'clock was it ?' 

' Eleven/ 

' Eleven ! and I am not at all sleepy. Mamma 
said I should be asleep before ten. Do you think 
Miss Osborne will keep her word with me when tea 
is over ? ' 

* Oh, yes ! I suppose so ; ' though she felt that she 
had no better reason to give than that Miss Osborne 
had not kept it before. 

' When shall you come to Osborne Castle ? ' 

' Never, probably. I am not acquainted with the 

' But you may come to Wickstead and see mamma, 
and she can take you to the castle. There is a 
monstrous curious stuffed fox there, and a badger, 
anybody would think they were alive. It is a pity 
you should not see them/ 

On rising from tea there was again a scramble for 

The Watsons. 

the pleasure of being first out of the room, which 
happened to be increased by one or two of the card- 
parties having just broken up, and the players being 
disposed to move exactly the different way. Among 
these was Mr. Howard, his sister leaning on his arm ; 
and no sooner were they within reach of Emma, than 
Mrs. Blake, calling her notice by a friendly touch, 
said, 'Your goodness to Charles, my dear Miss 
Watson, brings all his family upon you. Give me 
leave to introduce my brother.' Emma curtsied, the 
gentleman bowed, made a hasty request for the 
honour of her hand in the two next dances, to which 
as hasty an affirmative was given, and they were im- 
mediately impelled in opposite directions. Emma was 
very well pleased with the circumstance ; there was a 
quietly cheerful, gentlemanlike air in Mr. Howard 
which suited her ; and in a few minutes afterwards the 
value of her engagement increased, when, as she was 
sitting in the card-room, somewhat screened by a 
door, she heard Lord Osborne, who was lounging on 
a vacant table near her, call Tom Musgrave towards 
him and say, * Why do not you dance with that beau- 
tiful Emma Watson ? I want you to dance with her, 
and I will come and stand by you.' 

' I was determined on it this very moment, my 
lord ; I'll be introduced and dance with her directly.' 

' Aye, do ; and if you find she does not want much 
talking to, you may introduce me by and by.' 

' Very well, my lord ; if she is like her sisters she 
will only want to be listened to. I will go this 

324 The Watsons, 

moment. I shall find her in the tea-room. That stiff 
old Mrs. Edwards has never done tea.' 

Away he went, Lord Osborne after him; and 
Emma lost no time in hurrying from her corner 
exactly the other way, forgetting in her haste that 
she left Mrs. Edwards behind. 

' We had quite lost you/ said Mrs. Edwards, who 
followed her with Mary in less than five minutes. 
1 If you prefer this room to the other there is no 
reason why you should not be here, but we had better 
all be together.' 

Emma was saved the trouble of apologising, by 
their being joined at the moment by Tom Musgrave, 
who requesting Mrs. Edwards aloud to do him the 
honour of presenting him to Miss Emma Watson, 
left that good lady without any choice in the busi- 
ness, but that of testifying by the coldness of her 
manner that she did it unwillingly. The honour of 
dancing with her was solicited without loss of time, 
and Emma, however she might like to be thought a 
beautiful girl by lord or commoner, was so little dis- 
posed to favour Tom Musgrave himself that she had 
considerable satisfaction in avowing her previous en- 
gagement. He was evidently surprised and discom- 
posed. The style of her last partner had probably 
led him to believe her not overpowered with applica- 

'My little friend, Charles Blake/ he cried, 'must 
not expect to engross you the whole evening. We 
can never suffer this. It is against the rules of the 
assembly, and I am sure it will never be patronised 

The Watsons. 325 

by our good friend here, Mrs. Edwards; she is by 
much too nice a judge of decorum to give her license 
to such a dangerous particularity ' 

' I am not going to dance with Master Blake, sir!' 

The gentleman, a little disconcerted, could only 
hope he might be fortunate another time, and seem- 
ing unwilling to leave her, though his friend, Lord 
Osborne, was waiting in the doorway for the result, 
as Emma with some amusement perceived, he began 
to make civil enquiries after her family. 

' How comes it that we have not the pleasure of 
seeing your sisters here this evening ? Our assemblies 
have been used to be so well treated by them that we 
do not know how to take this neglect/ 

' My eldest sister is the only one at home, and she 
could not leave my father/ 

* Miss Watson the only one at home ! You astonish 
me ! It seems but the day before yesterday that I 
saw them all three in this town. But I am afraid I 
have been a very sad neighbour of late. I hear dread- 
ful complaints of my negligence wherever I go, and I 
confess it is a shameful length of time since I was at 
Stanton. But I shall now endeavour to make myself 
amends for the past/ 

Emma's calm curtsey in reply must have struck 
him as very unlike the encouraging warmth he had 
been used to receive from her sisters, and gave him 
probably the novel sensation of doubting his own in- 
fluence, and of wishing for more attention than she 
bestowed. The dancing now recommenced ; Miss 
Carr being impatient to call, everybody was required 

326 The Watsons. 

to stand up ; and Tom Musgrave's curiosity was ap- 
peased on seeing Mr. Howard come forward and 
claim Emma's hand. 

' That will do as well for me/ was Lord Osborne's 
remark, when his friend carried him the news, and he 
was continually at Howard's elbow during the two 

•The frequency of his appearance there was the only 
unpleasant part of the engagement, the only objection 
she could make to Mr. Howard. In himself, she 
thought him as agreeable as he looked ; though chat- 
ting on the commonest topics, he had a sensible, unaf- 
fected way of expressing himself, which made them all 
worth hearing, and she only regretted that he had not 
been able to make his pupil's manners as unexcep- 
tionable as his own. The two dances seemed very 
short, and she had her partners authority for con- 
sidering them so. At their conclusion, the Osbornes 
and their train were all on the move. 

' We are off at last/ said his lordship to Tom ; 
' How much longer do you stay in this heavenly 
place ? — till sunrise V 

1 No, faith ! my lord ; I have had quite enough of it, 
I assure you. I shall not show myself here again 
when I have had the honour of attending Lady Os- 
borne to her carriage. I shall retreat in as much 
secrecy as possible to the most remote corner of the 
house, where I shall order a barrel of oysters, and be 
famously snug.' 

' Let me see you soon at the castle, and bring me 
word how she looks by daylight.' 

TJie Watsons. 327 

Emma and Mrs. Blake parted as old acquaintance, 
and Charles shook her by the hand, and wished her 
goodbye at least a dozen times. From Miss Osborne 
and Miss Carr she received something like a jerking 
curtsey as they passed her ; even Lady Osborne gave 
her a look of complacency, and his lordship actually 
came back after the others were out of the room, to 
' beg her pardon/ and look in the window-seat behind 
her for the gloves which were visibly compressed in 
his hand. As Tom Musgrave was seen no more, we 
may suppose his plan to have succeeded, and imagine 
him mortifying with his barrel of oysters in dreary 
solitude, or gladly assisting the landlady in her bar to 
make fresh negus for the happy dancers above. 
Emma could not help missing the party by whom 
she had been, though in some respects unpleasantly, 
distinguished, and the two dances which followed and 
concluded the ball were rather flat in comparison with 
the others. Mr. Edwards having played with good 
luck, they were some of the last in the room. 

' Here we are back again, I declare,' said Emma 
sorrowfully, as she walked into the dining-room, where 
the table was prepared, and the neat upper maid was 
lighting the candles. 

1 My dear Miss Edwards, how soon it is at an end ! 
I wish it could all come over again.' 

A great deal of kind pleasure was expressed in her 
having enjoyed the evening so much ; and Mr. Ed- 
wards was as warm as herself in the praise of the 
fulness, brilliancy, and spirit of the meeting, though 
as he had been fixed the whole time at the same 

328 The Watsons. 

table in the same room, with only one change of 
chairs, it might have seemed a matter scarcely per- 
ceived ; but he had won four rubbers out of five, and 
everything went well. His daughter felt the advan- 
tage of this gratified state of mind, in the course of 
the remarks and retrospections which now ensued 
over the welcome soup. 

' How came you not to dance with either of the 
Mr. Tomlinsons, Mary ? ' said her mother. 

' 1 was always engaged when they asked me/ 

' I thought you were to have stood up with Mr. 
James the two last dances; Mrs. Tomlinson told me 
he was gone to ask you, and I had heard you say two 
minutes before that you were not engaged/ 

' Yes, but there was a mistake ; I had misunder- 
stood. I did not know I was engaged. I thought it 
had been for the two dances after, if we stayed so long; 
but Captain Hunter assured me it was for those very 

f So you ended with Captain Hunter, Mary, did 
you?' said her father. 'And whom did you begin 
with V 

' Captain Hunter/ was repeated in a very humble 

' Hum ! That is being constant, however. But 
who else did you dance with ?' 

1 Mr. Norton and Mr. Styles/ 

' And who are they ?' 

1 Mr. Norton is a cousin of Captain Hunter's/ 

'And who is Mr. Styles V 

' One of his particular friends/ 

The Watsons. 329 

'All in the same regiment/ added Mrs. Edwards. 
4 Mary was surrounded by red-coats all the evening. 
I should have been better pleased to see her dancing 
with some of our old neighbours, I confess.' 

'Yes, yes; we must not neglect our old neighbours. 
But if these soldiers are quicker than other people in 
a ball-room, what are young ladies to do ?' 

* I think there is no occasion for their engaging 
themselves so many dances beforehand, Mr. Ed- 

' No, perhaps not; but I remember, my dear, when 
you and I did the same/ 

Mrs. Edwards said no more, and Mary breathed 
again. A good deal of good-humoured pleasantry 
followed, and Emma went to bed in charming spirits, 
her head full of Osbornes, Blakes, and Howards. 

The next morning brought a great many visitors. It 
was the way of the place always to call on Mrs. Ed- 
wards the morning after a ball, and this neighbourly 
inclination was increased in the present instance by a 
general spirit of curiosity on Emma's account, as 
everybody wanted to look again at the girl who had 
been admired the night before by Lord Osborne. 
Many were the eyes, and various the degrees of ap- 
probation with which she was examined. Some saw 
no fault, and some no beauty. With some her brown 
skin was the annihilation of every grace, and others 
could never be persuaded that she was half so hand- 
some as Elizabeth Watson had been ten years ago. 
The morning passed quickly away in discussing the 
merits of the ball with all this succession of company, 

330 The Watsons. 

and Emma was at once astonished by finding it two 
o'clock, and considering that she had heard nothing 
of her father's chair. After this discovery she had 
walked twice to the window to examine the street, 
and was on the point of asking leave to ring the bell 
and make enquiries, when the light sound of a car- 
riage driving up to the door set her heart at ease. 
She stepped again to the window, but instead of the 
convenient though very un-smart family equipage 
perceived a neat curricle. Mr. Musgrave was shortly 
afterwards announced, and Mrs. Edwards put on her 
very stiffest look at the sound. Not at all dismayed,, 
however, by her chilling air, he paid his compliments 
to each of the ladies with no unbecoming ease, and 
continuing to address Emma presented her a note, 
which ' he had the honour of bringing from her sister, 
but to which he must observe a verbal postscript from 
himself would be requisite/ 

The note, which Emma was beginning to read 
rather before Mrs. Edwards had entreated her to use 
no ceremony, contained a few lines from Elizabeth 
importing that their father, in consequence of being 
unusually well, had taken the sudden resolution of 
attending the visitation that day, and that as his road 
lay quite wide from D. it was impossible for her to 
come home till the following morning, unless the 
Edwards would send her, which was hardly to be 
expected, or she could meet with any chance convey- 
ance, or did not mind walking so far. She had 
scarcely run her eye through the whole, before she 

The Watsons. 331 

found herself obliged to listen to Tom Musgrave's 
further account. 

' I received that note from the fair hands of Miss 
Watson only ten minutes ago,' said he ; ' I met her 
in the village of Stanton, whither my good stars 
prompted me to turn my horses' heads. She was at 
that moment in quest of a person to employ on the 
errand, and I was fortunate enough to convince her 
that she could not find a more willing or speedy mes- 
senger than myself. Remember, I say nothing of my 
disinterestedness. My reward is to be the indulgence 
of conveying you to Stanton in my curricle. Though 
they are not written down, I bring your sister's orders 
for the same.' 

Emma felt distressed ; she did not like the proposal 
— she did not wish to be on terms of intimacy with 
the proposer ; and yet, fearful of encroaching on the 
Edwards, as well as wishing to go home herself, she 
was at a loss how entirely to decline what he offered. 
Mrs. Edwards continued silent, either not under- 
standing the case, or waiting to see how the young 
lady's inclination lay. Emma thanked him, but pro- 
fessed herself very unwilling to give him so much 
trouble. ' The trouble was of course honour, plea- 
sure, delight — what had he or his horses to do ? ' Still 
she hesitated — ' She believed she must beg leave to 
decline his assistance ; she was rather afraid of the 
sort of carriage. The distance was not beyond a 
walk/ Mrs. Edwards was silent no longer. She 
enquired into the particulars, and then said, ' We 
shall be extremely happy, Miss Emma, if you can 

332 The Watsons. 

give us the pleasure of your company till to-morrow; 
but if you cannot conveniently do so, our carriage is 
quite at your service, and Mary will be pleased with 
the opportunity of seeing your sister.' 

This was precisely what Emma had longed for, 
and she accepted the offer most thankfully, acknow- 
ledging that as Elizabeth was entirely alone, it was 
her wish to return home to dinner. The plan was 
warmly opposed by their visitor — 

' I cannot suffer it, indeed. I must not be deprived 
of the happiness of escorting you. I assure you there 
is not a possibility of fear with my horses. You might 
guide them yourself. Your sisters all know how quiet 
they are ; they have none of them the smallest scruple 
in trusting themselves with me, even on a race-course. 
Believe me/ added he, lowering his voice, 'you are' 
quite safe — the danger is only mine! 

Emma was not more disposed to oblige him for all 

* And as to Mrs. Edwards' carriage being used the 
day after a ball, it is a thing quite out of rule, I 
assure you — never heard of before. The old coach- 
man will look as black as his horses — won't he, Miss 
Edwards ?' 

No notice was taken. The ladies were silently 
firm, and the gentleman found himself obliged to 

' What a famous ball we had last night/ he cried, 
after a short pause ; ' How long did you keep it up 
after the Osbornes and I went away ? ' 

' We had two dances more.' 

The Watsons. 333 

' It is making it too much of a fatigue, I think, to 
stay so late. I suppose your set was not a very full 

' Yes ; quite as full as ever, except the Osbornes. 
There seemed no vacancy anywhere ; and everybody 
danced with uncommon spirit to the very last.' 

Emma said this, though against her conscience. 

' Indeed ! perhaps I might have looked in upon 
you again, if I had been aware of as much ; for I am 
rather fond of dancing than not. Miss Osborne is a 
charming girl, is not she ? ' 

' I do not think her handsome/ replied Emma, to 
whom all this was chiefly addressed. 

' Perhaps she is not critically handsome, but her 
manners are delightful. And Fanny Carr is a most 
interesting little creature. You can imagine nothing 
more naive or piquante ; and what do you think of 
Lord Osborne, Miss Watson ?' 

1 He would be handsome even though he were not 
a lord, and, perhaps, better bred ; more desirous of 
pleasing and showing himself pleased in a right 

' Upon my word, you are severe upon my friend ! 
I assure you Lord Osborne is a very good fellow/ 

' I do not dispute his virtues, but I do not like his 
careless air/ 

1 If it were not a breach of confidence/ replied 
Tom, with an important look, ' perhaps I might be 
able to win a more favourable opinion of poor 

Emma gave him no encouragement, and he was 

334 The Watsons. 

obliged to keep his friend's secret. He was also 
obliged to put an end to his visit, for Mrs. Edwards 
having ordered her carriage there was no time to be 
lost on Emma's side in preparing for it. Miss Ed- 
wards accompanied her home ; but as it was dinner 
hour at Stanton stayed with them only a few minutes. 

' Now, my dear Emma/ said Miss Watson, as soon 
as they were alone, ' you must talk to me all the rest 
of the day without stopping, or I shall not be satis- 
fied ; but, first of all, Nanny shall bring in the dinner. 
Poor thing ! You will not dine as you did yesterday, 
for we have nothing but some fried beef. How nice 
Mary Edwards looks in her new pelisse ! And now 
tell me how you like them all, and what I am to say 
to Sam. I have begun my letter ; Jack Stokes is to 
call for it to-morrow, for his uncle is going within a 
mile of Guildford next day/ 

Nanny brought in the dinner. 

' We will wait upon ourselves/ continued Elizabeth, 
i and then we shall lose no time. And so you would 
not come home with Tom Musgrave ?' 

' No, you had said so much against him that I 
could not wish either for the obligation or the inti- 
macy which the use of his carriage must have created. 
I should not even have liked the appearance of it.' 

' You did very right ; though I wonder at your for- 
bearance, and I do not think I could have done it 
myself. He seemed so eager to fetch you that I 
could not say no, though it rather went against me to 
be throwing you together, so well as I knew his 
tricks ; but I did long to see you, and it was a clever 

TJic Watsons. 33$ 

way of getting you home. Besides, it won't do to be 
too nice. Nobody could have thought of the Ed- 
wards letting you have their coach, after the horses 
being out so late. But what am I to say to Sam ? ' 

' If you are guided by me you will not encourage 
him to think of Miss Edwards. The father is de- 
cidedly against him, the mother shows him no favour, 
and I doubt his having any interest with Mary. She 
danced twice with Captain Hunter, and I think 
shows him in general as much encouragement as is 
consistent with her disposition, and the circumstances 
she is placed in. She once mentioned Sam, and cer- 
tainly with a little confusion ; but that was perhaps 
merely owing to the consciousness of his liking her, 
which may very probably have come to her know- 

* Oh ! dear, yes. She has heard enough of tliat 
from us all. Poor Sam ! he is out of luck as well as 
other people. For the life of me, Emma, I cannot 
help feeling for those that are crossed in love. Well, 
now begin, and give me an account of everything as 
it happened.' 

Emma obeyed her, and Elizabeth listened with 
very little interruption till she heard of Mr. Howard 
as a partner. 

' Dance with Mr. Howard. Good heavens ! You 
don't say so ! Why he is quite one of the great and 
grand ones. Did you not find him very high V 

' His manners are of a kind to givo me much more 
ease and confidence than Tom MusgraveV 

' Well, go on. I should have been frightened out 

336 The Watsons. 

of my wits to have had anything to do with the 
Osborne's set/ 

Emma concluded her narration. 

' And so you really did not dance with Tom Mus- 
grave at all ; but you must have liked him — you must 
have been struck with him altogether/ 

' I do not like him, Elizabeth. I allow his person 
and air to be good ; and that his manners to a certain 
point — his address rather — is pleasing. But I see 
nothing else to admire in him. On the contrary, he 
seems very vain, very conceited, absurdly anxious for 
distinction, and absolutely contemptible in some of 
the measures he takes for being so. There is a ridi- 
culousness about him that entertains me ; but his 
company gives me no other agreeable emotion.' 

' My dearest Emma ! You are like nobody else in 
the world. It is well Margaret is not by. You do 
not offend me, though I hardly know how to believe 
you ; but Margaret would never forgive such words.' 

' I wish Margaret could have heard him profess his 
ignorance of her being out of the country; he declared 
it seemed only two days since he had seen her.' 

' Aye, that is just like him ; and yet this is the 
man she will fancy so desperately in love with her. 
He is no favourite of mine, as you well know, Emma, 
but you must think him agreeable. Can you lay 
your hand on your heart, and say you do not ? ' 

' Indeed, I can, both hands ; and spread them to 
their widest extent/ 

'I should like to know the man you do think 

The Watsons. 337 

* His name is Howard.' 

' Howard ! Dear me ; I cannot think of him but 
as playing cards with Lady Osborne, and looking 
proud. I must own, however, that it is a relief to me 
to find you can speak as you do of Tom Musgrave, 
My heart did misgive me that you would like him 
too well. You talked so stoutly beforehand, that I 
was sadly afraid your brag would be punished. I 
only hope it will last, and that he will not come on 
to pay you much attention. It is a hard thing for a 
woman to stand against the flattering ways of a man 
when he is bent upon pleasing her/ 

As their quietly sociable little meal concluded, 
Miss Watson could not help observing how com- 
fortably it had passed. 

( It is so delightful to me/ said she, ' to have things 
going on in peace and good-humour. Nobody can 
tell how much I hate quarrelling. Now, though we 
have had nothing but fried beef, how good it has all 
seemed. I wish everybody were as easily satisfied 
as you ; but poor Margaret is very snappish, and 
Penelope owns she would rather have quarrelling 
going on than nothing at all.' 

Mr. Watson returned in the evening not the worse 
for the exertion of the day, and, consequently, pleased 
with what he had done, and glad to talk of it over 
his own fireside. Emma had not foreseen any in- 
terest to herself in the occurrences of a visitation ; 
but when she heard Mr. Howard spoken of as the 
preacher, and as having given them an excellent 
sermon, she could not help listening with a quicker ear. 


338 The Watsons. 

4 1 do not know when I have heard a discourse 
more to my mind/ continued Mr. Watson, * or one 
better delivered. He reads extremely well, with 
great propriety, and in a very impressive manner, and 
at the same time without any theatrical grimace or 
violence. I own I do not like much action in the 
pulpit ; I do not like the studied air and artificial 
inflexions of voice which your very popular and most 
admired preachers generally have. A simple de- 
livery is much better calculated to inspire devotion, 
and shows a much better taste. Mr. Howard read 
like a scholar and a gentleman/ 

' And what had you for dinner, sir ? ' said his 
eldest daughter. 

He related the dishes, and told* what he had ate 

* Upon the whole/ he added, ' I have had a very 
comfortable day. My old friends were quite sur- 
prised to see me amongst them, and I must say that 
everybody paid me great attention, and seemed to 
feel for me as an invalid. They would make me sit 
near the fire ; and as the partridges were pretty high, 
Dr. Richards would have them sent away to the 
other end of the table, " that they might not offend 
Mr. Watson/* which I thought very kind of him. 
But what pleased me as much as anything was Mr. 
Howard's attention. There is a pretty steep flight of 
steps up to the room we dine in, which do not quite 
agree with my gouty foot, and Mr. Howard walked 
by me from the bottom to the top, and would make 
me take his arm. It struck me as very becoming in 

The Watsons. 339 

so young a man, but I am sure I had no claim to 
expect it, for I never saw him before in my life. By 
the by, he enquired after one of my daughters, but 
I do not know which. I suppose you know among 

On the third day after the ball, as Nanny, at five 
minutes before three, was beginning to bustle into the 
parlour with the tray and knife-case, she was sud- 
denly called to the front door by the sound of as 
smart a rap as the end of a riding whip could give ; 
and though charged by Miss Watson to let nobody 
in, returned in half a minute with a look of awkward 
dismay to hold the parlour door open for Lord Os- 
borne and Tom Musgrave. The surprise of the 
young ladies may be imagined. No visitors would 
have been welcome at such a moment, but such 
visitors as these — such an one as Lord Osborne at 
least, a nobleman and a stranger, was really dis- 

He looked a little embarrassed himself, as, on being 
introduced by his easy voluble friend, he muttered 
something of doing himself the honour of waiting 
upon Mr. Watson. Though Emma could not but 
take the compliment of the visit to herself, she was 
very far from enjoying it. She felt all the incon- 
sistency of such an acquaintance with the very humble 
style in which they were obliged to live ; and having 
in her aunt's family been used to many of the ele- 
gancies of life, was fully sensible of all that must be 
open to the ridicule of richer people in her present 

340 The Watsons. 

home. Of the pain of such feelings, Elizabeth knew 
very little. Her simple mind, or juster reason, saved 
her from such mortification ; and though shrinking 
under a general sense of inferiority, she felt no par- 
ticular shame. Mr. Watson, as the gentlemen had 
already heard from Nanny, was not well enough to be 
down stairs. With much concern they took their 
seats ; Lord Osborne near Emma, and the convenient 
Mr. Musgrave, in high spirits at his own importance, 
on the other side of the fireplace with Elizabeth. He 
was at no loss for words ; but when Lord Osborne 
had hoped that Emma had not caught cold at the 
ball he had nothing more to say for some time, and 
could only gratify his eye by occasional glances at 
his fair companion. Emma was not inclined to give 
herself much trouble for his entertainment, and after 
hard labour of mind, he produced the remark of its 
being a very fine day, and followed it up with the 
question of, ' Have you been walking this morning ? ' 

' No, my lord, we thought it too dirty/ 

' You should wear half-boots/ After another pause : 
' Nothing sets off a neat ankle more than a half-boot ; 
nankeen, galoshed with black, looks very well. Da 
not you like half-boots ? ' 

1 Yes ; but unless they are so stout as to injure 
their beauty, they are not fit for country walking/ 

' Ladies should ride in dirty weather. Do you 

' No, my lord/ 

' I wonder every lady does not ; a woman never 
looks better than on horseback/ 

The Watsons. 341 

' But every woman may not have the inclination or 
the means.' 

' If they knew how much it became them, they 
would all have the inclination; and I fancy, Miss 
Watson, when once they had the inclination, the 
means would soon follow/ 

' Your lordship thinks we always have our own 
way. That is a point on which ladies and gentlemen 
have long disagreed ; but without pretending to de- 
cide it, I may say that there are some circumstances 
which even women cannot control. Female economy 
will do a great deal, my lord, but it cannot turn a 
small income into a large one.' 

Lord Osborne was silenced. Her manner had 
been neither sententious nor sarcastic, but there was 
a something in its mild seriousness, as well as in the 
words themselves, which made his lordship think ; 
and when he addressed her again, it was with a de- 
gree of considerate propriety totally unlike the half- 
awkward, half-fearless style of his former remarks. It 
was a new thing with him to wish to please a woman ; 
it was the first time that he had ever felt what was 
due to a woman in Emma's situation ; but as he was 
wanting neither in sense nor a good disposition he 
did not feel it without effect. 

' You have not been long in this country, I under- 
stand,' said he, in the tone of a gentleman. ' I hope 
you are pleased with it' 

He was rewarded by a gracious answer, and a more 
liberal full view of her face than she had yet be- 
stowed. Unused to exert himself, and happy in con- 

34 2 The Watsons. 

templating her, he then sat in silence for some 
minutes longer, while Tom Musgrave was chattering 
to Elizabeth ; till they were interrupted by Nanny's 
approach, who, half-opening the door and putting in 
her head, said — 

' Please, ma'am, master wants to know why he 
be'nt to have his dinner ? ' 

The gentlemen, who had hitherto disregarded every 
symptom, however positive, of the nearness of that 
meal, now jumped up with apologies, while Elizabeth 
called briskly after Nanny to take up the fowls. 

' I am sorry it happens so,' she added, turning good- 
humouredly towards Musgrave, ' but you know what 
early hours we keep.' 

Tom had nothing to say for himself, he knew it 
very well, and such honest simplicity, such shameless 
truth, rather bewildered him. Lord Osborne's part- 
ing compliments took some time, his inclination for 
speech seeming to increase with the shortness of the 
term for indulgence. He recommended exercise in 
defiance of dirt ; spoke again in praise of half-boots ; 
begged that his sister might be allowed to send 
Emma the name of her shoemaker; and concluded 
with saying, ( My hounds will be hunting this country 
next week. I believe they will throw off at Stanton 
Wood on Wednesday at nine o'clock. I mention 
this in hopes of your being drawn out to see what's 
going on. If the morning's tolerable, pray do us the 
honour of giving us your good wishes in person/ 

The sisters looked on each other with astonishment 
when their visitors had withdrawn. 

The Watsons. 343 

'Here's an unaccountable honour!' cried Elizabeth 
at last. ' Who would have thought of Lord Osborne's 
coming to Stanton ? He is very handsome ; but Tom 
Musgrave looks all to nothing the smartest and most 
fashionable man of the two. I am glad he did not 
say anything to me ; I would not have had to talk to 
such a great man for the world. Tom was very 
agreeable, was not he ? But did you hear him ask 
where Miss Penelope and Miss Margaret were, when 
he first came in ? It put me out of patience. I am 
glad Nanny had not laid the cloth however, it would 
have looked so awkward ; just the tray did not 
signify.' To say that Emma was not flattered by 
Lord Osborne's visit, would be to assert a very un- 
likely thing, and describe a very odd young lady ; 
but the gratification was by no means unalloyed ; his 
coming was a sort of notice which might please her 
vanity, but did not suit her pride, and she would 
rather have known that he wished the visit without 
presuming to make it, than have seen him at Stanton. 

Among other unsatisfactory feelings it once occurred 
to her to wonder why Mr. Howard had not taken the 
same privilege of coming, and accompanied his lord- 
ship, but she was willing to suppose that he had 
either known nothing about it, or had declined any 
share in a measure which carried quite as much im- 
pertinence in its form as good breeding. Mr. Watson 
was very far from being delighted when he heard 
what had passed ; a little peevish under immediate 
pain, and ill-disposed to be pleased, he only replied, 

* Pooh ! Pooh ! what occasion could there be for 

344 The Watsons, 

Lord Osborne's coming ? I have lived here fourteen 
years without being noticed by any of the family. It 
is some fooling of that idle fellow, Tom Musgrave. I 
cannot return the visit. I would not if I could/ 
And when Tom Musgrave was met with again, he 
was commissioned with a message of excuse to 
Osborne Castle, on the too sufficient plea of Mr. 
Watson's infirm state of health. 

A week or ten days rolled quietly away after this 
visit before any new bustle arose to interrupt even for 
half a day the tranquil and affectionate intercourse of 
the two sisters, whose mutual regard was increasing 
with the intimate knowledge of each other which such 
intercourse produced. The first circumstance to break 
in on their security was the receipt of a letter from 
Croydon to announce the speedy return of Margaret, 
and a visit of two or three days from Mr. and Mrs. 
Robert Watson, who undertook to bring her home, 
and wished to see their sister Emma. 

It was an expectation to fill the thoughts of the 
sisters at Stanton and to busy the hours of one of 
them at least ; for, as Jane had been a woman of 
fortune, the preparations for her entertainment were 
considerable ; and as Elizabeth had at all times more 
goodwill than method in her guidance of the house, 
she could make no change without a bustle. An 
absence of fourteen years had made all her brothers 
and sisters strangers to Emma, but in her expectation 
of Margaret there was more than the awkwardness 
of such an alienation ; she had heard things which 
made her dread her return ; and the day which brought 

The Watso?is. 345 

the party to Stanton, seemed to her the probable 
conclusion of almost all that had been comfortable in 
the house. 

Robert Watson was an attorney at Croydon in a 
good way of business ; very well satisfied with him- 
self for the same, and for having married the only 
daughter of the attorney to whom he had been clerk, 
with a fortune of six thousand pounds. Mrs. Robert 
was not less pleased with herself for having had that 
six thousand pounds and for being now in posses- 
sion of a very smart house in Croydon, where she 
gave genteel parties and wore fine clothes. In her 
person there was nothing remarkable ; her manners 
were pert and conceited. Margaret was not without 
beauty; she had a slight pretty figure, and rather 
wanted countenance than good features ; but the 
sharp and anxious expression of her face made her 
beauty in general little felt. On meeting her long- 
absent sister, as on every occasion of show, her 
manner was all affection and her voice all gentleness ; 
continual smiles and a very slow articulation being 
her constant resource when determined on pleasing. 

She was now l so delighted to see dear, dear Emma/ 
that she could hardly speak a word in a minute. 

1 1 am sure we shall be great friends/ she observed 
with much sentiment as they were sitting together. 
Emma scarcely knew how to answer such a proposi- 
tion, and the manner in which it was spoken she could 
not attempt to equal. Mrs. Robert Watson eyed her 
with much familiar curiosity and triumphant compas- 
sion ; the loss of the aunt's fortune was uppermost in 

346 The Watsons. 

her mind at the moment of meeting ; and she could 
not but feel how much better it was to be the 
daughter of a gentleman of property in Croydon than 
the niece of an old woman who threw herself away 
on an Irish captain. Robert was carelessly kind, as 
became a prosperous man and a brother ; more intent 
on settling with the post-boy, inveighing against the 
exorbitant advance in posting, and pondering over a 
doubtful halfcrown, than on welcoming a sister who 
was no longer likely to have any property for him to 
get the direction of. 

'Your road through the village is infamous, Elizabeth/ 
said he ; ' worse than ever it was. By heaven ! I would 
indict it if I lived near you. Who is surveyor now?' 

There was a little niece at Croydon to be fondly 
enquired after by the kind-hearted Elizabeth, who 
regretted very much her not being of the party. 

' You are very good,' replied her mother, ' and I 
assure you it went very hard with Augusta to have 
us come away without her. I was forced to say we 
were only going to church, and promise to come back 
for her directly. But you know it would not do to 
bring her without her maid, and I am as particular as 
ever in having her properly attended to.' 

'Sweet little darling/ cried Margaret. l It quite 
broke my heart to leave her.' 

' Then why was you in such a hurry to run away 
from her?' cried Mrs. Robert. 'You are a sad 
shabby girl. I have been quarrelling with you all the 
way we came, have not I ? Such a visit as this I 
never heard of ! You know how glad we are to have 

The Watsons. 347 

any of you with us, if it be for months together ; and 
I am sorry (with a witty smile) we have not been 
able to make Croydon agreeable this autumn.' 

' My dearest Jane, do not overpower me with your 
raillery. You know what inducements I had to bring 
me home. ' Spare me, I entreat you. I am no match 
for your arch sallies.' 

' Well, I only beg you will not set your neighbours 
against the place. Perhaps Emma may be tempted 
to go back with us and stay till Christmas, if you 
don't put in your word/ 

Emma was greatly obliged. 'I assure you we 
have very good society at Croydon. I do not much 
attend the balls, they are rather too mixed ; but our 
parties are very select and good. I had seven tables 
last week in ray drawing-room.' 

'Are- you fond of the country? How do you like 
Stanton ? ' 

'Very much,' replied Emma, who thought a com- 
prehensive answer « most to the purpose. She saw 
that her sister-in-law despised her immediately. 
•Mrs. Robert Watson was indeed wondering what 
sort of a home Emma could possibly have been used 
to in Shropshire, and setting it down as certain that 
the aunt could never have had six thousand pounds. 

' How charming Emma is,' whispered Margaret to 
Mrs. Robert in her most languishing tone. Emma 
was quite distressed by such behaviour ; and she did 
not like it better when she heard Margaret five 
minutes afterwards say to Elizabeth in a sharp, quick 
accent, totally unlike the first, ' Have you heard from 

348 The Watsons, 

Pen since she went to Chichester ? I had a letter the 
other day. I don't find she is likely to make anything 
of it. I fancy she'll come back ' Miss Penelope/ as 
she went/ 

Such she feared would be Margaret's common voice 
when the novelty of her own appearance were over ; 
the tone of artificial sensibility was not recommended 
by the idea. The ladies were invited upstairs to pre- 
pare for dinner. 

' I hope you will find things tolerably comfortable, 
Jane,' said Elizabeth, as she opened the door of the 
spare bedchamber. 

' My good creature/ replied Jane, 'use no ceremony 
with me, I entreat you. I am one of those who always 
take things as they find them. I hope I can put up 
with a small apartment for two or three nights with- 
out making a piece of work. I always wish to be 
treated quite " en famille " when I come to see you. 
And now I do hope you have not been getting a great 
dinner for us. Remember we never eat suppers.' 

' I suppose/ said Margaret rather quickly to 
Emma, ' you and I are to be together ; Elizabeth 
always takes care to have a room to herself.' 

' No. Elizabeth gives me half hers.' 

1 Oh ! ' in a softened voice, and rather mortified to 
find that she was not ill-used. 

* I am sorry I am not to have the pleasure of your 
company, especially as it makes me nervous to be 
much alone.' 

Emma was the first of the females in the parlour 
again ; on entering it she found her brother alone. 

The Watsons. 349 

' So Emma/ said he, ' you are quite a stranger at 
home. It must seem odd enough for you to be here. 
A pretty piece of work your Aunt Turner has made 
of it ! By heaven ! A woman should never be 
trusted with money. I always said she ought to 
have settled something on you, as soon as her husband 

' But that would have been trusting me with money/ 
replied Emma, ' and I am a woman too/ 

'It might have been secured to your future use, 
without your having any power over it now. What a 
blow it must have been upon you ! To find yourself, 
instead of heiress of 8,000/. or 9,000/., sent back a 
weight upon your family, without a sixpence. I hope 
the old woman will smart for it/ 

' Do not speak disrespectfully of her ; she was very 
good to me, and if she has made an imprudent choice, 
she will suffer more from it herself than I can 
possibly do/ 

'I do not mean to distress you, but you know 
everybody must think her an old fool. I thought 
Turner had been reckoned an extraordinarily sensible, 
clever man. How the devil came he to make such a 
will ? ' 

' My uncle's sense is not at all impeached in my 
opinion by his attachment to my aunt. She had been 
an excellent wife to him. The most liberal and 
enlightened minds are always the most confiding. 
The event has been unfortunate, but my uncle's 
memory is, if possible, endeared to me by such a 
proof of tender respect for my aunt/ 

350 The Watsons. 

' That's odd sort of talking. He might have pro- 
vided decently for his widow, without leaving every- 
thing that he had to dispose of, or any part of it, at 
her mercy.' 

' My aunt may have erred/ said Emma, warmly ; 
* she has erred, but my uncle's conduct was faultless ; 
I was her own niece, and he left to her the power of 
providing for me.' 

' But unluckily she has left the pleasure of providing 
for you to your father, and without the power. That's 
the long and short of the business. After keeping 
you at a distance from your family for such a length 
of time as must do away all natural affection among 
us, and breeding you up (I suppose) in a superior 
style, you are returned upon their hands without a 

'You know,' replied Emma, struggling with her 
tears, ' my uncle's melancholy state of health. He 
was a greater invalid than my father. He could not 
leave home.' 

' I do not mean to make you cry,' said Robert, 
rather softened — and after a short silence, by way of 
changing the subject, he added : ' I am just come from 
my father's room ; he seems very indifferent. It will 
be a sad break up when he dies. Pity you can none 
of you get married ! You must come to Croydon as 
well as the rest, and see what you can do there. I 
believe if Margaret had had a thousand or fifteen 
hundred pounds, there was a young man who would 
have thought of her.' 

Emma was glad when they were joined by the 

The Watsons. 35 r 

others ; it was better to look at her sister-in-law's 
finery than listen to Robert, who had equally irritated 
and grieved her. Mrs. Robert, exactly as smart as 
she had been at her own party, came in with apologies 
for her dress. 

' I would not make you wait,' said she, ' so I put 
on the first thing I met with. I am afraid I am a sad 
figure. My dear Mr, W. (addressing her husband), 
you have not put any fresh powder in your hair/ 

' No, I do not intend it. I think there is powder 
enough in my hair for my wife and sisters.' 

' Indeed, you ought to make some alteration in your 
dress before dinner when you are out visiting, though 
you do not at home.' 

' Nonsense/ 

'It is very odd you do not like to do what other 
gentlemen do. Mr. Marshall and Mr. Hemming change 
their dress every day of their lives before dinner. 
And what was the use of my putting up your last new 
coat, if you are never to wear it ? ' 

' Do be satisfied with being fine yourself and leave 
your husband alone/ 

To put an end to this altercation and soften the evi- 
dent vexation of her sister-in-law, Emma (though in no 
spirits to make such nonsense easy), began to admire 
her gown. It produced immediate complacency. 

' Do you like it ? ' said she. ' I am very happy. It 
has been excessively admired, but sometimes I think 
the pattern too large. I shall wear one to-morrow 
which I think you will prefer to this. Have you 
seen the one I gave Margaret ? ' 

352 The Watsons. 

Dinner came, and except when Mrs. Robert looked 
at her husband's head, she continued gay and flippant, 
chiding Elizabeth for the profusion on the table, and 
absolutely protesting against the entrance of the roast 
turkey, which formed the only exception to ' you see 
your dinner.' ' I do beg and entreat that no turkey may 
be seen to-day. I am really frightened out of my 
wits with the number of dishes we have already. Let 
us have no turkey I beseech you.' 

' My dear,' replied Elizabeth, ' the turkey is roasted, 
and it may just as well come in as stay in the kitchen. 
Besides, if it is cut, I am in hopes my father may be 
tempted to eat a bit, for it is rather a favourite dish/ 

' You may have it in, my dear, but I assure you I 
shan't touch it' 

Mr. Watson had not been well enough to join the 
party at dinner, but was prevailed on to come down 
and drink tea with them. 

1 1 wish he may be able to have a game of cards, 
to-night,' said Elizabeth to Mrs. Robert, after seeing 
her father comfortably seated in his arm-chair. 

' Not on my account, my dear, I beg. You know 
I am no card-player. I think a snug chat infinitely 
better. I always say cards are very well sometimes 
to break a formal circle, but one never wants them 
among friends/ 

1 1 was thinking of it's being something to amuse 
my father/ said Elizabeth, ' if it was not disagreeable 
to you. He says his head won't bear whist, but per- 
haps if we make a round game he may be tempted to 
sit down with us/ 

T/ie Watsons. 353 

'By all means, my dear creature, I am quite at 
your service, only do not oblige me to choose the 
game, that's all. Speculation is the only round game 
at Croydon now, but I can play anything. When 
there is only one or two of you at home, you must be 
quite at a loss to amuse him. Why do you not get 
him to play at cribbage? Margaret and I have 
played at cribbage most nights that we have not been 

A sound like a distant carriage was at this moment 
caught ; everybody listened ; it became more decided ; 
it certainly drew nearer. It was an unusual sound for 
Stanton at any time of the day, for the village was on 
no very public road, and contained no gentleman's 
family but the rector's. The wheels rapidly approached; 
in two minutes the general expectation was answered ; 
they stopped beyond a doubt at the garden-gate of the 
parsonage. Who could it be ? It was certainly a 
postchaise. Penelope was the only creature to be 
thought of ; she might perhaps have met with some 
unexpected opportunity of returning. A pause of 
suspense ensued. Steps were distinguished along the 
paved footway, which led under the window of the 
house to the front door, and then within the passage. 
They were the steps of a man. It could not be 
Penelope. It must be Samuel. The door opened, 
and displayed Tom Musgrave in the wrap of a 
traveller. He had been in London and was now on 
his way home, and he had come half-a-mile out of his 
road merely to call for ten minutes at Stanton. He 
loved to take people by surprise with sudden visits at 

A A 

354 The Watsons. 

extraordinary seasons, and, in the present instance, he 
had the additional motive of being able to tell the 
Miss Watsons, whom he depended on finding sitting 
quietly employed after tea, that he was going home 
fro an eight o'clock dinner. 

As it happened, he did not give more surprise than 
he received, when, instead of being shown into the usual 
little sitting-room, the door of the best parlour (a foot 
larger each way than the other) was thrown open, and 
he beheld a circle of smart people, whom he could not 
immediately recognise, arranged with all the honours 
of visiting round the fire, and Miss Watson seated at 
the best Pembroke table, with the best tea-things 
before her. He stood a few seconds in silent amaze- 
ment ' Musgrave,' ejaculated Margaret, in a tender 
voice. He recollected himself, and came forward, 
delighted to find such a circle of friends, and blessing 
his good fortune for the unlooked-for indulgence. He 
shook hands with Robert, bowed and smiled to the 
ladies, and did everything very prettily, but as to any 
particularity of address or emotion towards Margaret, 
Emma, who closely observed him, perceived nothing 
that did not justify Elizabeth's opinion, though Mar- 
garet's modest smiles imported that she meant to take 
the visit to herself. He was persuaded without much 
difficulty to throw off his great coat and drink tea 
with them. For 'whether he dined at eight or nine/ 
as he observed, 'was a matter of very little conse- 
quence;' and without seeming to seek he did not turn 
away from the chair close by Margaret, which she 
was assiduous in providing him. She had thus secured 

The Watsons. 355 

him from her sisters, but it was not immediately in 
her power to preserve him from her brother's claims ; 
for as he came avowedly from London, and had left 
it only four hours ago, the last current report as to 
public news, and the general opinion of the day, must 
be understood before Robert could let his attention 
be yielded to the less rational and important demands 
of the women. At last, however, he was at liberty to 
hear Margaret's soft address, as she spoke her fears of 
his having had a most terrible cold, dark, dreadful 
journey — 

1 Indeed, you should not have set out so late.' 

' I could not be earlier,' he replied. ' I was detained 
chatting at the Bedford by a friend. All hours are 
alike to me. How long have you been in the country 
Miss Margaret?' 

'We only came this morning; my kind brother 
and sister brought me home this very morning. Tis 
singular — is not it ?' 

' You were gone a great while, were not you ? A 
fortnight, I suppose ? ' 

' You may call a fortnight a great while, Mr. Mus- 
grave,' said Mrs. Robert, sharply ; ' but we think a 
month very little. I assure you we bring her home 
at the end of a month much against our will.' 

' A month ! Have you really been gone a month ? 
'Tis amazing how time flies.' 

'You may imagine,' said Margaret, in a sort of 
whisper, ' what are my sensations in finding myself 
once more at Stanton ; you know what a sad visitor I 
make. And I was so excessively impatient to see 

35 6 The Watsons. 

Emma ; I dreaded the meeting, and at the same time 
longed for it. Do you not comprehend the sort of 
feeling V 

' Not at all/ cried he, aloud ; ' I could never dread 
a meeting with Miss Emma Watson, or any of her 

It was lucky that he added that finish. 

' Were you speaking to me V said Emma, who had 
caught her own name. 

' Not absolutely/ he answered ; ' but I was thinking 
of you, as many at a greater distance are probably 
doing at this moment. Fine open weather, Miss 
Emma — charming season for hunting/ 

' Emma is delightful, is not she ? * whispered Mar- 
garet ; ' I have found her more than answer my 
warmest hopes. Did you ever see anything more 
perfectly beautiful ? I think even you must be a con- 
vert to a brown complexion/ 

He hesitated. Margaret was fair herself, and he 
did not particularly want to compliment her; but 
Miss Osborne and Miss Carr were likewise fair, and 
his devotion to them carried the day. 

'Your sister's complexion/ said he, at last, 'is as 
fine as a dark complexion can be ; but I still profess 
my preference of a white skin. You have seen Miss 
Osborne ? She is my model for a truly feminine com- 
plexion, and she is very fair/ 

' Is she fairer than me V 

Tom made no reply. ' Upon my honour, ladies/ 
said he, giving a glance over his own person, ' I am 
highly indebted to your condescension for admitting 

The Watsons. 357 

me in such dishabille into your drawing-room. I 
really did not consider how unfit I was to be here, or 
I hope I should have kept my distance. Lady Os- 
borne would tell me that I was growing as careless as 
her son if she saw me in this condition/ 

The ladies were not wanting in civil returns, and 
R obert Watson, stealing a view of his own head in an 
opposite glass, said with equal civility — 

'You cannot be more in dishabille than myself. 
We got here so late that I had not time even to put 
a little fresh powder into my hair/ 

Emma could not help entering into what she sup- 
posed her sister-in-law's feelings at the moment 

When the tea-things were removed, Tom began to 
talk of his carriage ; but the old card-table being set 
out, and the fish and counters, with a tolerably clean 
pack brought forward from the buffet by Miss Watson, 
the general voice was so urgent with him to join their 
party that he agreed to allow himself another quarter 
of an hour. Even Emma was pleased that he would 
stay, for she was beginning to feel that a family party 
might be the worst of all parties ; and the others were 

' What's your game V cried he, as they stood round 
the table. 

1 Speculation, I believe/ said Elizabeth. ' My sister 
recommends it, and I fancy we all like it I know 
you do, Tom.' 

' It is the only round game played at Croydon now/ 
said Mrs. Robert ; ' we never think of any other. I 
am glad it is a favourite with you/ 

358 The Watsons. 

' Oh ! me* said Tom. ' Whatever you decide on 
will be a favourite with me. I have had some pleasant 
hours at speculation in my time; but I have not been 
in the way of it for a long while. Vingt-un is the 
game at Osborne Castle. I have played nothing but 
vingt-un of late. You would be astonished to hear 
the noise we make there — the fine old lofty drawing- 
room rings again. Lady Osborne sometimes declares 
she cannot hear herself speak. Lord Osborne enjoys it 
famously, and he makes the best dealer without excep- 
tion that I ever beheld — such quickness and spirit, he 
lets nobody dream over their cards. I wish you could 
see him over-draw himself on both his own cards. It 
is worth anything in the world ! ' 

'Dear me!' cried Margaret, 'why should not we 
play vingt-un ? I think it is a much better game 
than speculation. I cannot say I am very fond of 

Mrs. Robert offered not another word in support of 
the game. She was quite vanquished, and the 
fashions of Osborne Castle carried it over the fashions 
of Croydon. 

' Do you see much of the parsonage family at the 
castle, Mr. Musgrave ?' said Emma, as they were 
taking their seats. 

' Oh ! yes ; they are almost always there. Mrs. 
Blake is a nice little goodhumoured woman ; she and 
I are sworn friends ; and Howard's a very gentleman- 
like good sort of fellow. You are not forgotten, I 
assure you, by any of the party. I fancy you must 
have a little cheek-glowing now and then, Miss 

Tke Watsons. 359 

Emma. Were not you rather warm last Saturday 
about nine or ten o'clock in the evening ? I will tell 
you how it was — I see you are dying to know. Says 
Howard to Lord Osborne ' 

At this interesting moment he was called on by 
the others to regulate the game, and determine some 
disputable point ; and his attention was so totally 
engaged in the business, and afterwards by the course 
of the game, as never to revert to what he had been 
saying before; and Emma, though suffering a good 
deal from curiosity, dared not remind him. 

He proved a very useful addition at their table. 
Without him it would have been a party of such 
very near relations as could have felt little interest, 
and perhaps maintained little complaisance, but his 
presence gave variety and secured good manners. He 
was, in fact, excellently qualified to shine at a round 
game, and few situations made him appear to greater 
advantage. He played with spirit, and had a great 
deal to say ; and though no wit himself, could some- 
times make use of the wit of an absent friend, and 
had a lively way of retailing a common-place, or say- 
ing a mere nothing, that had great effect at a card- 
table. The ways and good jokes of Osborne Castle 
were now added to his ordinary means of entertain- 
ment. He repeated the smart sayings of one lady, 
detailed the oversights of another, and indulged them 
even with a copy of Lord Osborne's overdrawing him- 
self on both cards. 

The clock struck nine while he was thus agreeably 
occupied; and when Nanny came in with her master's 

360 The Watsons. 

basin of gruel, he had the pleasure of observing to 
Mr. Watson that he should leave him at supper while 
he went home to dinner himself. The carriage was 
ordered to the door, and no entreaties for his staying 
longer could now avail ; for he well knew that if he 
stayed he would have to sit down to supper in less 
than ten minutes, which to a man whose heart had 
been long fixed on calling his next meal a dinner, 
was quite insupportable. On finding him determined 
to go, Margaret began to wink and nod at Elizabeth 
to ask him to dinner for the following day, and Eliza- 
beth at last, not able to resist hints which her own 
hospitable social temper more than half seconded, 
gave the invitation — 'Would he give Robert the 
meeting, they should be very happy ? ' 

' With the greatest pleasure/ was his first reply. In 
a moment afterwards, ' That is, if I can possibly get 
here in time ; but I shoot with Lord Osborne, and 
therefore must not engage. You will not think of me 
unless you see me/ And so he departed, delighted 
in the uncertainty in which he had left it. 

Margaret, in the joy of her heart, under circum- 
stances which she chose to consider as peculiarly pro- 
pitious, would willingly have made a confidante of 
Emma when they were alone for a short time the 
next morning, and had proceeded so far as to say, 
4 The young man who was here last night, my dear 
Emma, and returns to-day, is more interesting to me 
than perhaps you may be aware;' but Emma, pre- 
tending to understand nothing extraordinary in the 

The Watsons. 361 

words, made some very inapplicable reply, and jump- 
ing up, ran away from a subject which was odious to 
her. As Margaret would not allow a doubt to be 
repeated of Musgrave's coming to dinner, preparations 
were made for his entertainment much exceeding 
what had been deemed necessary the day before ; 
and taking the office of superintendence entirely from 
her sister, she was half the morning in the kitchen 
herself, directing and scolding. 

After a great deal of indifferent cooking and anxious 
suspense, however, they were obliged to sit down 
without their guest. Tom Musgrave never came; 
and Margaret was at no pains to conceal her vexation 
under the disappointment, or repress the peevishness 
of her temper. The peace of the party for the re- 
mainder of that day and the whole of the next, which 
comprised the length of Robert and Jane's visit, was 
continually invaded by her fretful displeasure and 
querulous attacks. Elizabeth was the usual object of 
both. Margaret had just respect enough for her 
brother's and • sister's opinion to behave properly by 
tliem, but Elizabeth and the maids could never do 
right ; and Emma, whom she seemed no longer to 
think about, found the continuance of the gentle voice 
beyond calculation short. Eager to be as little among 
them as possible, Emma was delighted with the alter- 
native of sitting above with her father, and warmly 
entreated to be his constant companion each evening; 
.and as Elizabeth loved company of any kind too 
well not to prefer being below at all risks ; as she had 
rather talk of Croydon with Jane, with every inter- 

362 The Watsons. 

ruption of Margaret's perverseness, than sit with only 
her father, who frequently could not endure talking 
at all, the affair was so settled, as soon as she could 
be persuaded to believe it no sacrifice on her sister's 
part. To Emma the change was most acceptable and 
delightful. Her father, if ill, required little more than 
gentleness and silence, and being a man of sense and 
education, was, if able to converse, a welcome com- 
panion. In his chamber Emma was at peace from 
the dreadful mortifications of unequal society and 
family discord ; from the immediate endurance of 
hard-hearted prosperity, low-minded conceit, and 
wrong-headed folly, engrafted on an untoward dis- 
position. She still suffered from them in the contem- 
plation of their existence, in memory and in prospect, 
but for the moment she ceased to be tortured by their 
effects. She was at leisure ; she could read and think, 
though her situation was hardly such as to make re- 
flection very soothing. The evils arising from the loss 
of her uncle were neither trifling nor likely to lessen ; 
and when thought had been freely indulged in con- 
trasting the past and the present, the employment of 
mind and dissipation of unpleasant ideas, which only 
reading could produce, made her thankfully turn to a 

The change in her home society and style of life, 
in consequence of the death of one friend and the 
imprudence of another, had indeed been striking. 
From being the first object of hope and solicitude to 
an uncle who had formed her mind with the care of a 
parent, and of tenderness to an aunt whose amiable 

The Watsons. 363 

temper had delighted to give her every indulgence \ 
from being the life and spirit of a house where all 
had been comfort and elegance, and the expected 
heiress of an easy independence, she was become of 
importance to no one — a burden on those whose affec- 
tions she could not expect, an addition in a house 
already overstocked, surrounded by inferior minds, 
with little chance of domestic comfort, and as little 
hope of future support. It was well for her that she 
was naturally cheerful, for the change had been such 
as might have plunged weak spirits in despondence. 

She was very much pressed by Robert and Jane to 
return with them to Croydon, and had some difficulty 
in getting a refusal accepted, as they thought too 
highly of their own kindness and situation to suppose 
the offer could appear in less advantageous light to 
anybody else. Elizabeth gave them her interest, 
though evidently against her own, in privately urging 
Emma to go. 

' You do not know what you refuse, Emma/ said 
she, ' nor what you have to bear at home. I would 
advise you by all means to accept the invitation ; 
there is always something lively going on at Croydon. 
You will be in company almost every day, and Robert 
and Jane will be very kind to you. As for me, I 
shall be no worse off without you than I have been 
used to be ; but poor Margaret's disagreeable ways 
are new to you, and they would vex you more than 
you think for, if you stay at home.' 

Emma was of course uninfluenced, except to greater 

364 The Watsons. 

esteem for Elizabeth, by such representations, and the 
visitors departed without her. 

When the author's sister, Cassandra, showed the 
manuscript of this work to some of her nieces, she 
also told them something of the intended story ; for 
with this dear sister — though, I believe, with no one 
else — Jane seems to have talked freely of any work 
that she might have in hand. Mr. Watson was soon 
to die ; and Emma to become dependent for a home 
on her narrow-minded sister-in-law and brother. She 
was to decline an offer of marriage from Lord Osborne, 
and much of the interest of the tale was to arise from 
Lady Osborne's love for Mr. Howard, and his counter 
affection for Emma, whom he was finally to marry. 




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